It appears to have been happening slowly, but somehow over the past few months the idea of ‘pinkification’ appears to have become an overwhelming ideal. Toy makers, curriculum consultants, STEM researcher and even IT professionals are all trying to ‘pinkify’ their fields. Why this push? What is the impetus behind the use of this new word?
Stereotypes of what girls like verse what boys like are rampant. Even toy makers are changing the way they advertise and feed this stereotype. In trying to gain the attention of girls they tend to wrap themselves in pink bows and ribbons. Boys on the other gain are given the range of the rainbow. These stereotypes have been found to increase the divide between the genders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
We all can understand that play is an important part of learning for children, so isn’t it a shame that we take this inequality and present it to the children in the things that surround them at such a vulnerable time their lives. According to Cordelia Fine in Why Are Toys So Gendered? http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/new_scientist/2014/04/girl_and_boy_toys_childhood_preferences_for_gendered_toys_are_not_innate.html
It’s not just vehicles, weapons, and construction sets are presented for boys while toys of domesticity and beautification are for girls. Toys for boys facilitate competition, control, agency, and dominance; those for girls promote cooperation and nurturance. These gender stereotypes, acquired in childhood, underlie a host of well-documented biases against women in traditionally masculine domains and roles, and they hinder men from sharing more in the responsibilities and rewards of domestic life.
This new trend of pinkification does not end with toys but reaches into science. As you may imagine, it does more harm than good. What about this new “Science, it’s a Girl Thing!” Nicole Gugliucci has written Why ‘Pinkifying’ Science Does More Harm Than Good http://skepchick.org/2012/06/why-pinkifying-science-does-more-harm-than-good/. The article looks at the European Commission on Research and Innovation because “Science, it’s a Girl Thing!” comes from them! It is their effort to attract girls in the sciences.
Teachers of STEM courses do find a way of gaining attention of the girls without the pinkification of the program. It works, we just have to look to teachers that are modeling what our outcome should be. Just look at this teacher out of Philadelphia and her team that are the focus of an article in Edutopia. http://www.edutopia.org/blog/girls-and-robotics-mary-beth-hertz. There are so many more, we just have to look for them.