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pink Meccano to attract young girls to engineering
  (+5, -4)
(+5, -4)
  [vote for,

The gender imbalance in engineering has many possible routes. One could be the reluctance of young girls to play with construction toys, such as Meccano, that develop spatial and engineering skills - skills that give them confidence when studying the physical sciences in later life.

Some argue that girls have a natural disinclination to play with construction toys because of their genes. Others (like me) disagree. Leaving the thorny 'nature nurture' debate to one side, one thing that's absolutely certain is that young girls, particualrly those under 9, love anything pink. Talk to any group of 7 year-olds and you'll see what I mean.

Surely the goverment could exploit this colour preference and sponsor the production of construction toys, such as Meccano, in various shades of pink. This would be a far more useful intervention than the 'women into engineering' days that are thrust at girls in their teenage years, by which time their opinions of engineering are already set.

Functionally, pink Meccano would have exactly the same properties as the original - but socially, it wouldn't look out of place with Barbie. In fact, you could combine the two and make a Barbie crane.

It worked for the electric razor (see Phillips Ladyshave), so why wouldn't it work for this classic?

spacedog, Feb 21 2007

Wedgits in pink (not meccano, but still cool) http://www.fatbrain...nc/wedgits_pink.cfm
In 15 shades of pink! See user review for tale of she-toddler empowerment. [jutta, Feb 21 2007]

Geomag Shimmer Pink (ditto) http://www.hamleys.com/invt/0000000502591
"Geomag goes girly with this super 60-piece set!" Same basic idea. [jutta, Feb 21 2007]

Pink tools http://www.shopeeze...IwIoCFSZeMAodkn9WfQ
Accessories? [skinflaps, Feb 21 2007]

Wikipedia: Meccano Ltd http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meccano_Ltd
"In [1934], they also introduced a construction toy for younger children called Dinky Builder. It comprised rectangular and triangular hinged metal plates that could be quickly and easily assembled. The parts were painted jade green and salmon pink in an attempt to draw girls into the otherwise boys-only toy market." [jutta, Feb 21 2007]

"Why Britain needs more Meccano and Less Lego" http://www.chguy.ne...s/jul01/why_46.html
As referenced by spacedog. Based on their reactions, neither manufacturer understood the remark's point - maybe they should spend less time engineering and more time playing with dolls. [jutta, Mar 05 2007]


       all the girls under 8 that I know love purple.
po, Feb 21 2007

       Sun Burnt Barbie   

       Kinda catchy.
skinflaps, Feb 21 2007

       Are Meccanos any good?
bungston, Feb 21 2007


       I think this is a great idea. Far more of a grass-roots solution than others being bandied about.   

       For example; the girls in my course were all recipients of an arbitrary scholarship, simply because they were female. Two of them felt this was entirely fair, and couldn't understand the attitude of the third, who thought the whole thing was a bit insulting. There was a whole industry-funded institution "women in engineering" where they'd have little self-serving award nights, free dinners, additional tuition, etc. It all smacked of discrimination to me.   

       I couldn't help wondering what someone like Pam Grier would have to say about that.   

       Bun for anything that actually adresses the problem, instead of just treating the symptoms.
Custardguts, Feb 21 2007

       I like the idea, but as something for meccano to do (or have done - they tried this with the Dinky Builder line back in 1934), not for the government. If making toys pink is a way for a toy maker to sell something to (parents of) girls who otherwise wouldn't have bought anything, surely they'll come up with a pink version themselves.
jutta, Feb 21 2007

       I think that we who like building things will build. If not with lego, then with wood, blocks, or with glue and paper. Lego's great fun but it seems a bit of a stretch to say it will strongly influence a future career choice.
Heathera, Feb 21 2007

       Pink. Yer kidding, right? That pink aisle at Toys R Us is the stuff of nightmares. You wouldn't get me down there with a biiig stick with nails in. I suggest, rather than painting it pink, that lego technic and meccano make sets which build things other than cars and motorbikes, the intrinsic and lasting appeal of which is not immediately apparent to most little girls (please note, I said *most* little girls).   

       At the moment, both of these brands focus heavily on tractors, lorries, motobikes, diggers, racing cars and so on. Have a look at their websites. Why not moving models of people, animals, birds, fish, 3D games and puzzles, trebuchets, traps, lifts, planets etc, etc, etc. And please, purleeeease. Not in pink.
squeak, Feb 26 2007

       All right, but these blue flamingoes are hard to get used to.
Texticle, Feb 26 2007

       What [jutta] said (about Meccano, not the government, doing it).

Trivia: Barbie's full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts, and she'll be 48 this year.
angel, Feb 26 2007

       <WAY of topic>   

       Obligatory WIFRT - when I first read this idea I thought it was going to suggest a build-it-yourself barbecue grill made out of Meccano pieces.   

       Aside from that, where's Ian's anno ranting about corporate bureaucracy limiting consumers choices, or some such?
Canuck, Feb 27 2007

       Mmmm...interesting to see that Barbie has split the vote and embarrassed to have one of the oldest 'already baked' ideas around. By the way, Nobel Prize winner Harry Kroto made some very interesting claims about the influence of Meccano-like toys on a child's development of engineering skills (see 'Why Britain needs more Meccano and Less Lego'). If girls want pink why not try and 'sell' engineering toys to them with a splash of colour - just like they're already sold Barbie World? For the record, I was a Meccano kid, am an engineer and hated Barbie. I was bought an Action Girl one Christmas but melted her face under the episcope on Boxing Day. I like the idea of a self-assembly barbecue grill though.
spacedog, Mar 04 2007


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