Gendered Packaging of a STEM Toy Influences Children's Play, Mechanical Learning, and Mothers’ Play Guidance

Emily F. Coyle, Lynn Susan Liben

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

To study effects of the gender-packaging of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) toys, mother–child dyads (31 daughters; 30 sons; M = 5.2 years) were randomly assigned to play with a mechanical toy packaged for girls (GoldieBlox) or boys (BobbyBlox). When familiarizing themselves with the toy to prepare for play, mothers given BobbyBlox built more with toy pieces than did mothers given GoldieBlox. During dyadic play, mothers with sons built more; mothers with daughters read the toy's narrative instructions more. Children's independent play likewise varied with game packaging. Girls learned the mechanical belt-drive principle better from playing with BobbyBlox; boys learned the principle better from playing with GoldieBlox. Implications for gender-schema theories, STEM interventions, and toy marketing are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalChild development
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018

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Play and Playthings
Mathematics
toy
Product Packaging
Mothers
Learning
mathematics
engineering
Technology
Nuclear Family
science
learning
gender
Marketing
dyad
marketing
instruction
narrative

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

Cite this

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abstract = "To study effects of the gender-packaging of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) toys, mother–child dyads (31 daughters; 30 sons; M = 5.2 years) were randomly assigned to play with a mechanical toy packaged for girls (GoldieBlox) or boys (BobbyBlox). When familiarizing themselves with the toy to prepare for play, mothers given BobbyBlox built more with toy pieces than did mothers given GoldieBlox. During dyadic play, mothers with sons built more; mothers with daughters read the toy's narrative instructions more. Children's independent play likewise varied with game packaging. Girls learned the mechanical belt-drive principle better from playing with BobbyBlox; boys learned the principle better from playing with GoldieBlox. Implications for gender-schema theories, STEM interventions, and toy marketing are discussed.",
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