#CodingGirls

DOLLS ARE FOR GIRLS AND LEGO IS FOR BOYS - DO SEXIST TOYS CONTRIBUTE TO THE GENDER GAP IN EDUCATION, APPRENTICESHIPS AND IN THE WORKPLACE?

ALTHOUGH girls are doing better at every stage of the education system than boys, there remains a ‘gender gap’ when it comes to choice of subjects and career at 16.

Young women are still more likely to take arts, humanities and social science subjects, like English, foreign languages and sociology, and young men are more likely to take scientific and technology –based subjects such as physics, engineering and IT, especially level 3 (A-level and Btec National) in our schools and colleges.

Even within the supposed ‘gender neutral’ national curriculum, there are marked gender differences. For instance, girls are more likely to take home economics and food technology (cookery), while boys are more likely to opt for woodwork and electronics.

Although young women account for over half of all apprenticeship starts only 8% of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) apprenticeships were begun by women in 2017.

A report by the Careers and Enterprise Company, ‘Closing the Gender Gap’, has found that "gendered stereotypes" still determine the occupational choices of young women.

The study of 2,000 young people found that women are much more likely to go into care-related jobs such as nursing or teaching, while men are more likely to opt for IT or engineering type jobs. Today there are few women bricklayers and even fewer male beauty therapists!

City MP Chi Onwurah, a former engineer, has called for an end to sex-specific toys, which she argues has contributed to the gender gap in education and vocational training, and deters young women from jobs in technology and science.

There’s some compelling evidence which supports Ms Onwurah’s claim.

Through parental upbringing, which sociologists term ‘gender role socialisation’, means that from an early age, boys and girls are encouraged to play with different toys and do different activities in the home.

This process of socialisation through the family and early-years education may encourage young men to develop more interest in technical and scientific subjects and careers, and discourage young women from taking them. It’s not simply about ‘pink’ for girls and ‘ blue for boys’.

The latest study by Becky Francis, ‘Gender, Toys and Learning’, found that while parental choices for boys were marked by toys that involved action, construction and machinery, there was a tendency to steer girls towards dolls and perceived ‘feminine’ interests such as hairdressing and beauty therapy.

As Francis notes: "The clear message seems to be that boys should be making things, using their hands and solving problems, and girls should be caring and nurturing."

Gender stereotypes when it comes to play and toys has a clear impact on youngsters’ future subject choices and career prospects.

It’s true that girls are outperforming boys at GCSE and AS/A-level, but the problem remains with the curriculum which is ‘highly gendered’ as noted earlier.

Boys are pushed into a world of action as well as technology, and their play is designed to be exciting and stimulating.

Like Chi, Francis observed that Hamleys toy shop in central London was coloured- coded when it came to toys – floor 3, highlighted in pink, was for girls, while the top floor was designated blue for boys.

Her findings are backed up by Sue Palmer’s book, ‘Toxic Childhood’.

She maintains that toy makers are cornering children into gender roles from a very early stage. "Pink is endemic for girls", she argues in her book.

Big toy manufacturers are sending out a clear message to girls and boys about how they should behave and parents are subtly colluding with them.

However, can the gender divide in school, college, apprenticeships and in employment be simply blamed on choice of toys and the nature of play in the early stages of childhood.

Some writers believe there are other factors to consider. According to the equal rights watchdog, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, subject and careers advice in schools and outside, may be to blame.

In providing this type of guidance, teachers and Careers Officers, may be reflecting their own upbringings and expectations, and reinforcing the different subject options, according to their own gender stereotypes of appropriate subjects, particularly when it comes to the age of 16 to 19.

Other experts focus more on the classroom itself. Science labs are still seen as mainly ‘masculine’. It’s been found that boys tend to monopolise science classrooms – grapping equipment first, answering oral questions directed at girls, which all helps to undermine girls’ confidence and intimidate them from taking up these subjects at A-level and beyond at degree level.

It’s still the case that gender stereotyping is still found in the delivery of these disciplines, with the invisibility of women in maths and science textbooks. This consolidates the misplaced view that these are ‘male’ subjects.

To breakdown gender stereotypes more needs to be done. Toy producers need to scrap sexist toys, teachers need to be more aware of gender related equality issues, book publishers need to be more ‘gender-neutral’, and more needs to be done by government agencies to encourage more women into technology and science careers and more men into the female dominated caring professions.

Primo Toys is one toy producer that is on a mission to inspire the world to give girls the power and confidence to aspire to jobs in the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) sector in a bid to bridge the gender gap.

They want to highlight just how important this can be and inspire more girls to get into coding with their #CodingGirls campaign.

Valeria Leonardi, COO at Primo Toys is a mother with a strong passion for ed tech, she comments:

“It was through my daughter Olivia that I was involved in co-founding Primo, and she is still a constant inspiration to me. She reminds me of how important it is to support young girls and boys in learning how to become self-confident, aware and free of prejudice when it comes to deciding who we want to be, and what we want to do to make a difference to the world.

“I come from a family of female pioneers, and am proud to have been influenced by two grandmothers with university degrees and long careers, an aunt who is a leading scientist and a mother who worked as a Waldorf teacher. With this #CodingGirls campaign, we want to amplify the message and encourage parents to think about how their daughters can get ahead in STEM subjects. As Randi Zuckerberg once said, ‘We have to make technology accessible to all genders, languages and cultures, and is starts young.’”

One of Primo’s founding principles is to create toys that are equally as appealing to girls and boys. Their friendly wooden robot, Cubetto is one early-age solution for the gender gap in STEM.

Introducing coding through open-ended play makes it gender neutral, and promotes creativity and critical thinking alongside 21st century skills.   

Stephen Lambert, Newcastle City Councillor.

Stephen writes in a personal capacity.

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Advertisers

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Video Advert

Newsroom Activity

Biz Ed News has a new avatar. 7 minutes ago
Morgan Hunt has a new avatar. 13 minutes ago
FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 15 hours 40 minutes ago

We will ensure that schools, colleges and universities stay open: We will ensure that schools, colleges and univers… https://t.co/3pcnapPV5k
View Original Tweet

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

Events

FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page