Tuesday, 12 March 2013
Pink isn't the problem
I love pink! I'm almost 45 and I love a nice hot pink t-shirt or "essential" stationery type products for my office, not least because the pinkness puts my husband and my son off appropriating said products for their own use.
I was reading a piece in the Daily Mail recently in which Professor Alice Roberts was reported as criticising Lego for producing pink sets that encourage shopping and making cakes. Prof. Roberts seemed to feel that "girls" toys promoting girly pursuits like shopping and cooking are putting girls off maths and science at an early age.
Now I'm no scientist (hello Grade 4 CSE physics!), but I was an early years teacher before I took up writing full-time and I know that in my classroom and in all those I visited, there were just toys and any child could play with whatever they wanted.
Shopping games were encouraged because they helped children practice language, maths and organisation skills and could also prompt discussions and thinking about a whole range of topics, depending on what shop scenario was set up.
As for cooking, all that weighing and measuring, mixing ingredients and predicting what might happen when you mix a dry ingredient with a liquid or bake, heat or cool things; surely all valuable science concepts for young children to learn?
Problems with girls and women entering science, maths and engineering fields have nothing to do with pink toys but they do have a lot to do with constantly hearing how difficult it is to be a woman and to make a success of a career in fields traditionally seen as male preserves. They're only told half the story. Yes, it is hard to climb the career ladder and have a family, but instead of moaning about it, women who have made it need to let younger women know how they've achieved it.
If young women knew that the support of partners, family, their own dedication to make it in their chosen career, could see them make it to the top, then they would feel they could find a way to make it to the top if they really wanted it.
And on the flip side of that, women who have achieved highly in particular fields need to respect that not every woman wants that (just like not every man wants to climb to the top of the professional ladder).
Pink (like blue), is just a nice colour. Being able to access all the facts about what it takes to make it to the top in any given profession is the way more women are going to make it!