I read this article a few days ago and forwarded it to P. The gist of the original article was:
Barbie should be put back in her box to make way for more “creative” toys such as Lego and Meccano that are traditionally given to boys, one of Britain’s top women scientists says.
I know P has some very strong opinions on this subject – way stronger than mine. Even so her reply was much more emphatic than I expected. So I knew I had to post it for you guys. Let me know what you think!
Before we get P’s opinion, an obligatory pic of the toys Chotu never plays with.
I think this is a sort of reverse-conditioning that is being imposed on girls. In getting rid of one stereotype, why are we creating another? Why are we giving the girls who do actually want to play with Barbies and cooking-sets a complex? At the end of the day, the kid must have the choice of picking up whatever toy it is he or she wants to play with!
There is such a thing as nature as well, it’s not all nurture. How is this any worse than those parents who “urge” their child to write with their right hand, and not with the left? So yes, I think the child must be given a choice, but this “urging” is bad, one way or another.
On a personal note, my favorite toy was a cute girl with blue-eyes, curly hair and a green dress – I had her with me for the longest time until she was in absolute tatters! I used to love to play with a metal kitchen set my dad got for me and my sis ( yes, my physicist dad, who also taught us quite a bit of physics later on in life!) . And believe it or not, our favorite game was “playing house” 😀
Clearly, none of this reflects on the way me or my sister turned out eventually, except perhaps my fondness for babies 🙂 Conversely, it is not as if all boys who play with Lego sets end up becoming engineers or rocket-scientists!
Again, on a personal note, it’s true that I never had any interest in Legos or building stuff, and that I did love to read and do math, and these were perhaps early signs of what I eventually ended up doing. But the fact that I was playing with dolls and kitchen sets didn’t turn me away from science or math, and neither did it dampen my creativity (or so I’d like to think!) . As for internships and such, I know that G served as a bar-tender for a while during his undergraduate days, and then went on to do a math-CS PhD; I think he would have been a disaster at any local garage 😉
And there we have it, if not from one of India’s most eminent female scientists (though I’m betting she will count among them soon) then at least from a female scientist who is none the worse from having grown up playing with a blue eyed doll.
It’s a bit of a continuation on yesterday’s theme, I suppose. After all, it’s just another magic wand for parenting. Whatever happened to understanding the child’s temperament and needs and responding to those? Sigh!