A scientist would not threaten critics and try to silence them »« Jesus and Mo chat about modesty

Comments

  1. particleman says

    Yeah, I’d be insulted by that if I were female too. That’s just awful,
    So much non self aware misogyny went into that packaging.

  2. julian says

    Looks more like science for Ru Paul except I don’t think he’d be so tacky as to go so… well, pink.

  3. sceptinurse says

    Needless to say none of my granddaughters will be getting any of these. I think I’ll stick with the “boys” science kits for them when the time comes.

  4. sailor1031 says

    I’m totally fucking appalled. I didn’t realise that knowing nothing about Lampyards third postulate would have such terrible results……but here we are..

    I haven’t run this by my cousin Joanna – the one with the PhD in Biochemistry – but I’m sure she won’t be impressed. I doubt that Chantal – my niece with the BS in electronic engineering (from McGill) – will be impressed either.

    As they say on the rock – lord liftin’ jasus this sucks.

    I doubt though that active mysogyny is involved, just plain fucking stupidity. The totally disconnected morons that put this shit out there probably “love girls”, in their own minds, and are just trying to help them.

    Interesting that all of these kits were concerned with beauty lotions, soaps and perfumes none of which actually involve much science – just mixing of ingredients…….oh wait; is that chemistry?

  5. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    But the names are so cutesy: “Lip Balm Lab”, “Perfect Perfume Lab”, “Snow Flake Factory”, “Beautiful Blob Slime”. The last is just so neato spiffy keen!

    • Making a wide variety of bouncy and drippy, clear and coloured gels and slimes for different effects!

    • Uses all safe chemicals unlike competitors. Alginate based not borax based. Exploring and controlling different polymers and catalyst reactions. Making non Newtonian (mind boggling) semi solids!

    It’s non Newtonian. Just the thing for a junior Deepak Choptra to cut her teeth on before she gets all quantum. :-þ

  6. Robert B. says

    @ ‘Tis Himself, OM:

    Haha, “non-Newtonian” is actually a real fluid dynamics term and it’s used correctly here. Good line though.

    @ sailor1031:

    Yeah, for me “science for girls” is organic chemistry, which my sister is getting her PhD in at Boston College, or computer science, the major of my mom’s degree from Mt. Holyoke.

    @ everyone:

    This whole thing is just… okay, there’s this thing with toy marketing in general where almost every toy has to be clearly marketed as being either for boys or for girls. You aim a toy at girls by making the packaging pink or lavender and having it be about princesses, horses, babies, desserts, or fashion. You aim a toy at boys by making the packaging blue or red and having it be about sports, big trucks, people who work with big trucks, or anything messy. But don’t worry, if you forget these rules and make a toy with a color scheme or subject not on either list, the toy stores have your back! Anything that doesn’t fit either category is considered a boys’ toy and shelved accordingly.

    When a toy marketer looks at the cool little science kits for kids, he thinks, “It’s messy, and it’s green, so I guess it’s a boy’s toy. But girls are supposed to learn science, too… I know! Let’s make a girls’ version!” He does not think critically about the sea of sexism and gender-role-enforcement his industry swims in, either because he’s soaked with it or because he can’t fight it anyway. He just applies his tired old tropes of what makes a girls’ toy to the same science kits that already exist “for boys” and has the factory stamp out whatever he comes up with.

    We’re looking at the result of that. There’s no particular drive to gender-segregate science, the toy industry just gender-segregates everything. It’s really sucky, but I’m 100% non-surprised. I’ll probably have to shelve this stuff next time I go in to work.

  7. says

    Interesting that all of these kits were concerned with beauty lotions, soaps and perfumes none of which actually involve much science – just mixing of ingredients…….oh wait; is that chemistry?

    Careful there. My friends who are really into soap-making inform me that you definetely have to know your chemistry and work with pretty dangerous chemicals.
    Lots of traditionally “feminine” stuff like cooking, sewing, knitting etc actually requires a lot of science and mathematics, but it is discounted there. Nothing wrong explaining ph and stuff with cooking ingredients.

    —-

    Something different:
    Is the “pink aisle” the first one in every toy store wherever you are as well?
    I’m suspecting that they’re trying to stop you with your little girl into any other area of the toy store because parents and girls could “get ideas”

  8. Svlad Cjelli says

    “Mystic (Krazy)”

    Honestly, this clarification makes me want to defend this thing. I’m not sure what I could say to defend it, though.

  9. Svlad Cjelli says

    Also, yeah, don’t diss cooking. That shit’s serious business. It’s really weird that there can be such cutesy, crayon coloured stereotypes about such a brutal and vital discipline.

  10. sailor1031 says

    Alethea @11: Lampyard’s third postulate is a very difficult proposition known only to a few extremely intelligent philosophers. It is never stated, probably it has never been stated, but seems to have something to do with the improper use of mathematical notation. It is used as a very sophisticated courtier’s reply to irritating comments from the uninitiated non-philosopher. The fact that it cannot be found by Google merely emphasizes the especially rarefied nature of the postulate;

    You should probably start your enquiry with consideration of Lampyard’s first and second postulates – if you can find them. Good luck.

  11. julian says

    One of the saddest aspect of that bullshit is that a lot of that stuff can actually have pretty science to it. (As someone with lips that crack constantly, making my own lip balm would be awesome.) But the acceptance of every stereotype known (women can’t handle science a science, all they want u pink and glitter, really they just want to be housekeepers) is such an insult, I don’t get why anyone would look past it.

    I understand the sentiment and view the overall goal behind it as noble. Making or marketing science in such a way that appeal to the life of an individual seems like a great way to reach nobodies and layfolk like me. But why, by my nonexistent beard, would you do it like this? Why would you choose a method that reinforces stereotypes?

    It’s not that hard. Remove the pink, include a boy in the picture and add something like ‘If you’re like me, you often run through sticks of chapstick like your dog runs through chew toys. Ever wish you could make your own? With this set, learn how! Spice it up with glitter. Give a bright shine. And even cherry flavor!’ as way of a blurb on the back and you’re in business.

  12. says

    A DrewNThis makes me angrier then it probably should.

    It doesn’t make me angry, so much as sad. Take the premise that girls are supposed to like pink and they all want to be princesses. Add the obligation for (at least the appearance of) exposing girls to science. Ergo, you need Pink Princess Science. How about instead we attack the Pink Princess Premise in the first place? Where do people get the idea that science is a masculine thing that needs to be feminized to make it appealing to girls? I had not noticed that boys interested in science were considered by their peers (or by society at large) to be particularly masculine! (OK, I guess it does make me angry, as well as sad.)

  13. Godless Heathen says

    sailor1031 @20:
    I am also uninitiated to the wonders of Lampyard’s 3rd postulate. Thank you for making me lol at work today.

    Also, when I Googled it, 1 or 2 of the 3 or 4 results were to the comments in this post…

  14. The Lorax says

    Consumerism perpetuates stereotypes.

    This is why I like the Internet. If I wanted to know how to make home-made lip balm, I’d just fucking Google it. There is probably a Wikipedia page detailing the substance and its processing, there are probably a dozen Instructables, and I’m sure loads of other websites where people have detailed their own attempts. Information. It’s a good thing.

  15. says

    Information is indeed a wonderful thing. But, Lorax, if you were 10, even though you probably could google it, you might lack the discernment to figure out which of the instructional sites/videos actually had a clue, and also it could be a challenge to acquire the necessary chemicals and equipment in sub-industrial quantities, and/or as a private person. Yes, you could google that as well, but lacking assistance of a mentor (parental or otherwise), doing this independently is a bit of a tall order for most kids. Kits in boxes can nicely address this issue by carving off a kid-accessible chunk of challenge.

  16. Maria says

    I wonder what their Girls EE kit would look like? ‘Enchanting Electric Eyebrows’ – make your own battery powered eyebrow plucker. ‘Wonderful Weight Watcher’ – Build your own talking scale. ‘Magical Moon Mirror’ – LED lighted magnifying beauty mirror.

  17. sailor1031 says

    Godless Heathen: thanks. I think all the references to the postulate will turnout to be on B&W. However we have proved that Google search works

  18. sailor1031 says

    Oh dear – ‘big bang’ is just sooooo last century. Nowadays it’s all M-theory and the cyclic, expanding multiverse.

    Alethea: Thankyou; a courtier among courtesans is just what i’d want to be – perhaps in another life

  19. julian says

    Wasn’t there a running M-Theory gag on Big Bang Theory? I’m probably misremembering (never saw past the first 5 or so episodes) but I remember it involving the uber geek (the one with the soup bowl haircut) they occasionally ate with.

  20. says

    This is what they said to me:

    Hi Rob,

    Many thoughtful parents and children are concerned about our decision to market separate Boy and Girl Science kits. Here are some frequently asked questions and our answers to them.

    ARE WE ‘PUTTING OFF’ GIRLS?
    We have about 21 products nominally designed for a girl audience, 6 for a boy audience and 17 more or less genderless.
    So that tells you we actually have a huge, smart and feisty ball- busting bunch of WILD girl scientists out there. The biggest girl following in all science kit providers we believe.

    ARE GIRL KITS ‘GIRLY GIRLY’?
    Look a little deeper and you’ll see that girls can make Bouncing Slime, Rat’s Gizzards and Flowery Fart Putty (which is in the Perfume
    Kit!!) as preludes to their own fugues of inventiveness and creativity. We ask all the kids: girls and boys to take risks, be brave, believe their own experiences, question everything, create and share knowledge, test and test again. And the boys can make gorgeous Rainbow Icicle Trees, perfumed goo and more. But underlying the seeming frivolity is deep, deep science. In fact almost all the products are based on similar concepts, but we theme the names, stories and initial explorations differently, as sisters and brothers often want different kits. We’ll come to that later.

    WHY BOY AND GIRL KITS WHEN THEY COULD ALL BE SCIENCE KITS?
    1 ‘Findability’. Starting in 1997, and for three years onwards, all
    our kits were gender neutral. We used green background boxes. The public that found the kits, loved them once they had used them.
    But most buyers complained
    a) they did not know if the kits were ‘for them’, meaning ‘for boys or for girls’.
    b) why did we ‘hide’ the kits away!! Major retailers ‘hid’ the kits because they had no easy-to-find category or home for the kits. NOTE:
    About 60% of our kits were bought then by or for girls before 2000.
    Now it is even higher.

    Thus we had parents and kids asking why we did not make it clear whom the kits were for. And secondly, we had retailers not having a ‘home’
    for the kits, pressing us to FLAG the kits for boys or for girls, so they can find a home.

    2 Why not put them in the SCIENCE section?
    We are already there in specialty stores, but in larger practice that does not solve the issues above. Plus, our mission is to bring science to the kids and adults that would NOT visit the science section in specialty stores.
    All our biological kits tend to be Green – gender neutral, and thus tend to be confined to small specialist shops. Our mission is 85% bigger than the science section, it is to reach the unconverted kids who already ‘hate’ or are not interested in science. Marketing to the converted does nothing to convert! Thus we need to talk to boys and girls.

    3 WHY Pink and Purple in Big stores? WILD Girls have no trouble
    finding the kits there. They also know that the science inside is ‘edgy and grungy’. The pink and purple is like the icon of a woman in a skirt signifying ‘ladies toilet’. Rarely do jeans wearing extreme skydiving women complain about skirt-stereotyping in a mall toilet sign. Or a green light signifying go on a highway. But colour iconography and psychology is another science worthy of discussion.

    4 Why Unscientific Titles? Some hard line scientists ask why we do not
    use names such as ‘Electrical science’, or ‘Acid Base Science’ as more realistic and direct science names? This falls into our ‘schoolishness’ and science-centricity issue. We found that such an approach narrowed the appeal to just the geeky and already converted ( BTW we are geeky and already converted). Plus it made the kits sound like school. Plus it misses out on our drive to introduce real invention and creativity into the science process for kids ( so sadly lacking in many school science classes). The majority of our buyers are regular mums uncles and aunties. Why not dads? This is a good question and it is a complex answer still being researched. About 85% of the adult public admit to negative feelings towards their science education (USA UK and Australian research). Particularly women who report they themselves had negative experiences in science classes but nevertheless realize scientific literacy is important for their own kids, and thus have very mixed feelings when buying a kit. We must use our messaging to help them get past those feelings, plus deliver the exciting ‘non schooly’ experience promised inside.

    5 Are Boys and Girls missing out on each other’s experiences?
    By flagging kits along gender lines, we can double our product variety! Yes, most of the Workshops, Labs and Factory kits have girl versions and boy versions. This is a practical, commercial win, plus a win for brothers and sisters as we can double the range of activities using the same ‘ingredients’ and same scientific concepts. But we change the names and themes, and we do not duplicate the challenges – we create new ones. Girls still have more kits in the range than boys, yes they do the same HARD SCIENCE too, but it is getting more even.
    Boys do say about a girl kit ‘yuck its for girls’. Girls tend not to
    say the opposite, so the WILD! world is bigger for girls so far.
    Currently boys are missing out mostly on Cosmetic Sciences. These feature organic chemistry, skin health and biology – ABSOLUTELY NOT make up or fashion. When enough boys get their act together and admit they are interested, we are ready. Yes we do have a Physics and Chemistry kit – nominally in the boy’s category. Girls do nearly all of it – and it will change anyway

    6 STEREOTYPING?
    In all our feedback over 15 years or so we have found WILD! Science boys and WILD! Science girls to be questioning, thoughtful, inquisitive, determined, limitless, courageous, and funny individuals.
    Not pink or blue! Very far from the impressionable young minds we fear will be subverted by the implied hidden curriculum. The ‘colours’ and our adult-fears of stereotyping just did not stick, if they had any real meaning in the first place. A great deal of educational research has shown similar outcomes in intentional gender-neutral educational environments compared to laissez faire or stereotyped environments.
    Ultimately, kids are much smarter and much less impressionable than we think. Even tho’ at a young age they seem to have distinct preferences which we seem to reinforce. Evolutionary psychologists have a lot to say about this.

    7 WHAT DO WE KNOW?
    We try to stay constantly abreast of scientific and educational research into gender and stereotyping issues. Our writers and advisors are all parents, including university method lecturers, zoologists, educational psychologists and front line researchers in both school and institutional learning and unstructured/natural learning. Our educational paradigm is ahead of the curve – contributing to research in authentic pedagogy, leading in constructivism etc.

    Sadly the issue is being where kids can find us. We can follow a paradigm of proactive neutrality and thus become invisible and unsustainable. Great in schools with captive audiences, but not in mass market – yet.

    8 WHAT DO YOU KNOW?
    If you haven’t actually checked what is inside one of our products, please take a leap and do so! Check the messages on the back of the box, and read one of the Inspiration booklets ( especially maybe the Cosmetic Science kits) and DO the activities. We think you’ll be surprised.

    We suspect this may not completely satisfy your concerns. But it may at least explain why we do what we do. And yes, we never ignore critical inputs, to the contrary we value them immensely.

    All the best,

    The Team at WILD! Science

    I PBPR’D bits and pieces, but there’s plenty of idiocy up for grabs.

  21. Robert B. says

    Where to begin? Not with a small specialty toy company. I was saying, the toy manufacturer either doesn’t examine the gender-role problem or decides they can’t fight it? This company has decided they can’t fight it. I can’t say they’re wrong to think so.

    Start with the big manufacturers, or the big retailers. Start with the public, and debunk the parental desire to seek “girls’ toys” or “boys’ toys” in the first place. That letter had a lot of excuse-making in it, but the underlying force behind the rationalizations is that they can’t make money selling gender-neutral toys and they have no way to change that fact. They paint the box pink or they go out of business. Given that even these distressingly princess-pink products are teaching science to kids, I can’t say I’d rather they go under.

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