Barbie vs. GI Joe: Why Don’t Boys Play with Dolls?

Posted by Michael Pinto on Oct 14, 2009 in Hobbies and Collections |

This is a short clip from a longer video by Dr. Lise Eliot which talks about the different toy interests in boys and girls. Her observation is that at age one boys and girls will play with the same toys, but by age three that all changes. We’re slowly making progress as girls now feel it’s alright to play with toys that were aimed at boys in the past like construction sets — but not the other way around.

Here’s an interesting quote from Dr. Lise Eliot’s website which further explores her thesis:

What is the main thing you hope readers take away from your book? That boy-girl differences are not as “hard-wired” as many parents today, imbued with the Mars/Venus philosophy, believe. Yes, there are innate differences, but we should be aware of how they become magnified through our own parenting and marketing, and especially through our kids’ own culture. Also, I would like readers to come away with a sense of how fantastically plastic the human brain is. Whatever you do is what your brain becomes “wired” for. So any time you see an obvious difference between men and women, or boys and girls, you have to ask yourself: How did they spend their time over the past three or thirty years to make their brains so good (or so bad) at certain skills? And more importantly, if boys or girls are struggling in a particular area—whether it’s math, reading, or just sitting still in class—how can the right environment and forms of practice help them catch up?”

I really love the idea of toys as teaching tools — it’s often said that “the work of children is play”.


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