I always take a particular note when an MP makes a comment on the toy market, whatever their interest or conflict of interest!
Apparently education minister Elizabeth Truss has made a statement that toys could impact on the careers of girls and have a harmful affect. She fears that gender-specific toys in particular could have a negative impact on career opportunities for girls and that their was a risk turning girls off science and maths…urging parents to buy their daughters Lego!
I believe that the problem she highlights of the lack of women entering these careers is much simpler. Unfortunately the main issue is the lack of parental involvement in active play, owners of toy shops all across the UK will be able to recount the stories of the two types of parents who buy toys.
Parent Type One – The Interested Parent. The parent who takes time to consider the play value of the toy and how their child can gain the most from exploring it.
Parent Type Two – The Leave Me Alone Parent. The parent who buys a toy to shut their child up, the toy often being cast aside within minutes. (Harsh but true!)
There are great toys out in the market place ….usually a lot of them not found in the row upon row of plastic on the supermarket shelves …it really is not down to the “gender – specific nature” of the toy, but the “special play nature” of the parent.
Apparently child and family psychologist Margaret McAllister agrees with me!
“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”.
McAllister believes encouraging children to explore, question, interact with others and work together has more impact.
Enough said…..anyway it won’t be the first time I have disagreed with a government minister!
If you want to see more on this subject read here