Tag Archives: girl

Education is Far Beyond Toys.

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BY ABBY MAC

You may have heard recently of the new girls’ toy, GoldieBlox, designed to encourage young girls into engineering and thinking beyond pretty pink Barbies and dolls.  As the GoldieBlox website words it, they desire to “Get Girls Building”.  The whole concept is quite original and has attracted support world-wide for providing girls with a broader range of toys than the typical “Pink Aisle” offers.  Now, before you stop reading because you think I am going to either criticize the toy or totally jump on board and go way over the top with what a cultural revolution this toy is, I’m not.  I have an immense amount of support for this addition to the girls’ toy aisle, it supplies options to those who aren’t interested in playing dolls or caring for babies, however, this is about something a little bit different.

When I was investigating for this post, I read quite a bit of research stating something along the lines, that continued lack of interest for science, technology, engineering and mathematical (STEM) subjects by girls, is due to culture, as in the toys they play with.  Other studies revealed that if you don’t expose your girl child to toys such as Goldieblox, which promote building and engineering, before the age of five, then they will be less likely to show interest in any STEM subjects or career options.

GoldieBlox

The GoldieBlox Toy.

Don’t call be pessimistic about the whole idea of GoldieBlox or showing young girls the importance and value of STEM subjects and careers in life because I’m not.  What I deeply worry about is that parents and significant adults in children’s lives will feel “complete” after letting their girl child play with a GoldieBlox toy and feel no obligation to nurture their learning more.  Adults might enter a stage of complacency thinking if they have let their girl play with GoldieBlox before five, then their world will be open to an infinite world of career options and abilities in the building field, and if they haven’t, well then, let’s go back to Barbies.

As I have grown up, I watch parents stress about missing events in their child’s lives such as their first word, first steps or first day of pre-school, however, once they enter mid to late primary school, events in their child’s lives aren’t as important and missing every music recital or sports games don’t seem that bad, when it is quite the contrary.  This is when the child needs and wants the parent the most and a continued interest in their child’s life should be never-ending.  Hence, I am concerned that with all these new studies and statistics claiming that exposing your child to toys such as GoldieBlox before five will almost guarantee them an interest in engineering, that parents will just stop playing, teaching and quenching the child’s want to be always learning; right from cooking, to engineering, to swimming.

With the release of GoldieBlox, many generic girls’ toys have been criticized with their limiting features of pink, make-up, dolls, pink, pretty, pink or caring for babies dressed in pink clothes.  Parents, the media, experts and general commentators are appealing that having this depleted options of toys for girls are instating in their minds that all they are made for are being housewives.  And, I agree, however, just like thinking that the GoldieBlox toys will solve the answer to girls’ lack of interest in STEM, nor are pink toys the direct reason for some girls thinking they are limited to cleaning.

When I was small, I played shopkeepers and teaching and with my dolls but did I grow up thinking that all my skills encompassed caring and interacting with other people and in fact men were more capable?  No.  My dad use to tell me that he worked in the Poo Factory, as a joke, and for years that’s all I wanted to do was work in the Poo Factory.  Now, I want to work as a writer, author and in diplomacy but I don’t remember ever playing with a Barbie who internationally worked and wrote.

Children are influenced by their toys, but most of all by the people and places they are exposed to.  Growing up, I have been guided by people from all ranges of life that have taught me ambition, simplicity, health, your own personal influence, kindness, humor, knowledge, the power of questioning, success, equality and integrity.  My doll didn’t teach me that.  People did.

I am not trying to undermine the incredible advancement that the toy industry have made with developing something for girls beyond pink and dolls.  We have begun a step to empowering girls with more knowledge about building and creation but toys do not donate all factors to success or the likelihood of being an engineer.  As a society, we can actively enrich girl children to positive culture, people and places and in turn, enhance more positive movements to a girl’s personal self-belief and career diversity.  No doll, Barbie, GoldieBlox, My Little Pony or Lego block could ever do something as powerful as that.

The Time Is Now. Speak.

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BY ABBY MAC

 

Something exciting happened.  Something very exciting.  I was published on www.mamamia.com.au.  Some of you might not find that as exciting as you thought it was going to be, nonetheless, it was a big deal for me and if you want to read the article (WHICH YOU WILL.  THERE’S NO CHOICE) you can click on this link –

http://www.mamamia.com.au/mamamia-cares/woman-biggest-risk-factor-domestic-violence/

For those of you who haven’t read the post, yet, I will quickly summarise it.   In support of my Mum, I frequently work with her local Zonta Club (an international women’s organization dedicated to aiding women worldwide) for various events and causes.  One of the events was a united walk to advocate ending violence against women.   The event has been and gone, very successfully I might add, however, just because this is the case, it doesn’t mean that conversation should end on domestic violence or my article is no longer relevant.

No in different languages.

“No” means the same thing. Whatever language you speak.

My article, though intended to create awareness for the walk, was based upon providing voices to the women, men and children who are silenced due to domestic violence.  I questioned the value in just walking and how that could possibly stop domestic violence.  The truth is, it didn’t.  But, that wasn’t the reason behind walking.  We walked to show a support network of women and men who were calling on political, social and cultural change to the epidemic that domestic violence is.  We were the people that may not have had the abilities to change laws or authoritative practice, but we were and will continue to be the people who had a voice and decided to get up and use it.  Like we all should.

Using your voice shouldn’t just be limited to domestic violence.  Anything.  Use it for anything you’re passionate about and where horrible wrongs must be ended. I often hear people complaining that they don’t know how to make change.  They haven’t got the resources, public profile or time to try and be heard, they say.  That may be true.  But, what they do have is undeniably the biggest asset one could possess and that is right to their voice.  Unlike the victims of domestic violence, they aren’t being silenced.  The only thing stopping them, or you, is all the reasons which you concoct in your mind to not do something.

A couple of nights ago, I watched a documentary named Girl Rising (http://www.girlrising.com/), which I must say is the most moving and emotional films I have watched.  It shows stories of nine girls who have been empowered or want to be empowered with education.  One of the most startling and incredible facts I learnt is that providing a girl with an education is one of the most rewarding (economically, physically, socially) investments that an individual, government or country can make.  I think that’s quite amazing.

Girl Rising.

Girl Rising.

Listening to both the horrific and heart-warming stories of these girls aged from seven to 15, what I learnt is that these girls were born into countries where they have been subject to evil acts and silenced whether it be due to culture, religion, threats of violence, rape or death, lack of or no education or seemingly no resources to be heard and yet, these girls and many more of them, are speaking out and being listened to.  I sit in Australia, a country rich in resources, where free speech is encouraged, you can be heard in so many mediums from social media to a democratic political stage and yet too many of us sit in silence, or we limit our opinions or desire for change to the dining room table.  Well, to put in bluntly, how very weak, cowardly and just wrong is that of us.  We have education.  We have knowledge.  And we have a voice.

So, get up and use it.

What are you passionate about?  How are you promoting or making change?