Stuck for something to buy your daughter, niece... this Christmas? The WISE Young Women's Board have put together some ideas...
30 November 2015
Getting more girls interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) is crucial, especially at younger ages. Most girls begin to identify as ‘STEM’ or ‘non-STEM’ as early as age 10. And with a forecasted skills gap in the workforce in STEM, with more than 2.5 million job openings in engineering expected by 2022, it’s essential to ready these young girls’ future.
So as the holiday season closes in, here’s a fresh look at fun but educational toys specifically geared towards getting girls interested in STEM. Toys have had its hand in gender roles in society, limiting children’s imagination and opportunities later in life. The WISE Young Women Board steps up to recall the toys they played with that got them into the career they’re in today and offer a recommendation for what you can get for the important young girl in your life.
Sian is a Spacecraft Engineer working on the space exploration missions of tomorrow. She helps to develop and design these missions whilst they are in the early phases of development. At the moment she’s helping to develop the concept for a mission that will monitor the Sun-Earth environment to enable predictions of so-called ‘space weather’. As a child, Sian had her sights set on being an astronaut which obviously impacted on some of her toy choices! As she recalls: “I remember specifically asking for an action man Moonraker for Christmas because I wanted an astronaut doll, and I had seen it advertised on TV. He came with a moonbuggy that he rode on and he was the best boyfriend for Barbie.”
Today: “For aspiring space cadets, I would recommend the Stargazer Lottie. I had a toy telescope similar to what she had, and would have identified and loved her at that age.” Stargazer Lottie also comes with collector cards and notable women in astronomy sheet.
Lucy is a submarine designer working on the most complex structures built in the UK today. Though she didn’t play dress up like the typical girl, she loved playing with dolls and action figures as a child. “I had the usual toys but I remember one particular Christmas when I was eight asking for a Micromachine garage. It was a toy really marketed for boys and most of my friends were asking for Barbies.”
Today: Today, the Project MC2 dolls by the makers of Bratz are particularly designed for young girls to get interested in STEM topics. “I would have loved these dolls as a budding engineer and my friends would’ve loved playing with them too,” Lucy confirms. Each doll in the range has her own individual style and science specialty, plus there are fun experiments to do at home, such as making a mini volcano.
Elaine works in the offshore oil and gas industry making sure that the oil platforms in the North Sea “stand up” and remain structurally safe for everyone working there. Elaine thought she wanted to be an architect when she was younger and was always drawing plans of her ideal house. She also liked playing with farm toys, trains and lego, combining them all together in a huge play area – her uncle was a joiner and he must have been driven mad with all the sheds she wanted to make every weekend!
Today: “Goldie Blox is something that I think would have been a perfect gift for me when I was a child,” Elaine says. Similar to building Rube Goldberg machines, the Goldie Blox toys combine story telling with creative building to get more girls interested in construction and engineering. It’s specifically designed based on research into how young girls like to play.
Jia-Yan is a software developer who creates applications for financial professionals to make strategic decisions in their day-to-day jobs. “I loved playing video games as a kid and I always wanted to know how they were made,” Jia-Yan says. She loved Super Mario World on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System for the stunning visuals and interactivity of gaming. “I decided engineering would be a great place to learn how things worked and found software engineering to the most creative and exciting because anything is possible!”
Today: The Makey Makey board is a great way to get kids learning to program fast! With plenty of lessons, guides and instructions on the web, girls can create fun games, using fruit or any conductive materials to complete circuits. “This is a great way to play with basic logic and circuitry, fundamental to computer design and programming,” Jia-Yan continues.
Any recommendations for young girl’s toys that encourages STEM? Let the WISE Young Women’s Board know on twitter at @WISE_ywb!