Why your buying decisions could be contributing to gender inequality

By Opal Kiang, Magformers Australia

It is no secret that gender inequality exists in certain professions and careers such as aviation or construction, as well as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) related careers. Is there something you can do to help correct the imbalance? Or is there something you are doing that is actually contributing to the problem?

What you may not realise is that gender inequality in professions might have a lot to do with what you are choosing to buy for young girls. A recent survey conducted by Magformers Australia revealed that only 14% of people bought Magformers – an educational magnetic construction toy, specifically for a girl.

All young children, whether boys or girls, must develop essential skills while they are in their early learning stages. However, many adults still buy gender specific toys, like cars and building toys for boys; or dolls, play kitchens and make up for girls, thereby encouraging them to develop a skill set that may be gender biased.

Career opportunities are, among other things, dependent on the skills children develop when they are growing up. Having played with construction toys throughout their childhood, boys are often given more opportunities in careers where fine motor skills and spatial awareness are required. Think mechanics, engineering and aviation. How can girls be expected to have the same opportunities, even in a perfect world, if they are not armed with the same skills?

“The future of your child is significantly, if not entirely, dependent on what they play with today” says Opal Kiang from Magformers Australia.

Ms Kiang was shocked when a father told her at a recent Pregnancy Babies & Children Expo: “I have two girls, so Magformers isn’t for us”.

Girls need to spend time playing with construction toys as much as boys, in order for their brains to be developed with the same essential skills. Those skills include spatial awareness, rotation, mathematical thinking, scientific thinking, imagination, logical reasoning and problem solving skills, all of which are required for them to be able to create, innovate and advance the technology of tomorrow.

If you have a daughter, niece or grand-daughter, think twice next time you are buying for them. For girls to grow up with a real fighting chance to excel in a career that is currently male dominated, they must first be equipped with the skills necessary to succeed in that field. By the same token, if you want your boy to grow up to be more emotionally intelligent and in touch with his feelings, don’t just buy the same stereotypical boys toys. Instead, buy him a toy that will help develop his emotions. Remember the buying decisions you make today may have lasting effects.

Note: The views and advice expressed on this blog post are those of the author and are not representative of the Pregnancy Babies & Children's Expo.

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