How Pink Will Empower Girls
If we’re going to empower our girls to pursue their dream job, it is our duty to prepare them and to ensure their options are wide-ranging. Women make up only 14.4% of the STEM workforce. We could do a better job at making sure STEM is an option for our daughters and closing the gender gap in STEM.
As Dinah Davis highlights, exposure to STEM (science, technology, engineering & mathematics) activities at a young age is key to engaging more women in STEM (and any human for that matter). We need to expose girls to STEM while appealing to their interests. Not all girls will pursue a career in STEM, but we should still encourage them to enjoy imagining, creating, and making — skills that can be translated to many careers.
There are plenty of ‘boy’ and ‘gender neutral’ STEM toys available, but girls don’t choose these toys. After interviewing several families, I found parents try to encourage their daughters to play with gender neutral or even boys’ toys, but once they start primary education, girls’ interest in pink and princesses is unavoidable. Let them have their cake and eat it, too.
Instead of trying to change what girls like, let’s make cognitive skill building appeal to their interests. If girls like pink and sparkly, then give them pink and sparkly. If giving girls pink engineering toys is how we close the gender divide and fill the skill gap, then that’s what we should do. The colour pink isn’t hindering our girls’ futures, a skill gap is.
Pink isn’t the problem, a lack of options is.
[By no means do I mean to simplify a complex issue. There are a plethora of other societal issues that will be hopefully be addressed by the time she reaches career choosing age. The internet is flooded with blog posts and news articles highlighting these obstacles.]
So why can’t girls have pink engineering toys? Right now, their aisle is filled with baby dolls, small cute collectibles (that hurt when you step on them), playhouses and kitchens. Those are all wonderful and fun toys that teach lessons about compassion, empathy and building relationships, but they don’t help our girls learn the cognitive skills they need for jobs like engineering, science, math and technology. It’s no wonder girls lose confidence in their ability to be smart by the time they’re 6!
Encourage girls to play and use STEM in a way that is interesting and relevant to her — even if it means embracing pink and sparkly.
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