CHOOSING A CAREER / JAN. 30, 2014
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Career Choices: Gender Specific Toys and Feminist Nonsense

In the most recent feminist madness to hit the shelves, education Minister Elizabeth Truss has warned that children’s toys could affect their career choices. According to Miss Truss, gender specific toys play a major factor in our career choices, later in life. Really, what she was implying, was that toys are having a negative effect on women’s career choices and it is one of the main reasons for the gender gap. It seems the feminist camp are really clutching at straws now.

Let Toys Be Toys?

The argument is based on figures from the Office for National Statistics, which at first glance appear convincing. For example, over 80% of science, research, engineering and technology professionals are male. In contrast 82% of caring and leisure workers, and 78% or administrative and secretarial workers are female. While there is no denying that there is a gender gap, it seems quite a stretch to blame it on what kind of toys people played with as children. But, as usual the feminists have decided that there is a sinister force at work. This time of course it is Barbie and Action Man. This has led to a feminist campaign called ‘Let Toys Be Toys’, to stop major UK retailers such as Marks and Spencer and Hamleys labeling toys for boys or girls.

Flawed Argument

Supposedly, toys such as Lego and puzzles are more prominent among boys. And these are the toys which tend to produce architects and scientists. But, to be honest, the most prominent boy’s toys are guns, swords and cars. Puzzles are very gender neutral, with many women enjoying them. There wasn’t any information saying that playing with toy guns or having sword fights, made you more likely to be a successful engineer or programmer. In fact, most women drive cars now, so does playing with a Barbie doll really mean that you will amount to nothing more than a housewife, or hair dresser?

What about the boys who play with their sisters toys and grow up to be very masculine? Why haven’t they also followed the traditional female career path if this theory about gender specific toys is valid? After all according to Becky Francis of Roehampton University  ‘Different types of toys give different messages about what's appropriate for boys and girls to do, and have different educational content - both elements are important and might have a bearing on schooling and career choices later,’.

Both Sexes Are Equal Aren’t They?

You may think that one person who fits the profile perfectly is ex-Commando Neil Sinclair, but it is not so. While it is true that his favourite toy was Action Man; he had decided that he wanted to be a soldier years before he got his first Action Man. In fact, after leaving the Marines he became a teacher and then a full time child-minder. So if toys play such an important role in shaping female career choices, why is it not true of men as well? Are feminists not just adding fuel to the idea that there are differences between the two sexes? If we are truly equal then our childhood development must surely be affected by the same factors.

As child psychologist Margaret McAllister says ‘It's a rather superficial approach and all too easy to say encourage girls to play with cars and lorries, and they are more likely to become engineers - there is no real evidence of this. It's also far too limiting and channeling of a child's experience - job prospects are a long way off from early play,’ The best way to ensure that any child male or female succeeds in life is to encourage a wide range of skills from an early age. Help them develop all of the different motor and mental skills which they may need.

As you can see, when this argument is examined with rational eyes, it becomes little more than feminist nonsense. As previously stated, you cannot deny the gender gap, but please don’t try and blame it on Barbie and Action Man, you’re just embarrassing yourselves now. 

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