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General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Edmund Scientific Removes Girl and Boy Categories for its Novelty Kits

I don’t normally  blog about commercial products, but found this interesting.
Edmund Scientific did the right thing here by responding to negative feedback.  They removed the Girls and Boys Novelty Kits categories  and replaced them with a single Novelty Science Kits category.

It just surprised me that products are still assigned gender categories! I was born in the mid 50s, but went to a rather progressive Catholic high school where gender did not come into play in science education (mid 70’s). So it still shocks me when I come across articles like this.

On a somewhat related note, this past month I was processing applications for Christmas toys for a local charity.
The voucher for toys had categories for gender and age groups.
While I was filling one out for an applicant, she said she had a boy and girl…then she took a deep breath.
She said her boy had more fun with girl toys…then asked if I could check off the form to include two girls.
Without hesitating I said of course. She looked a little stunned, then teared up and thanked me. She went on and told me a bit about the grief she was getting from families and friends about how she was not raising her son right.
All I could say, was, it wasn’t a problem with me or the agency. I added that I was not a counselor, but I believed her families/friends meant well…and gave her the 211 number to get resources if she needed help in dealing with her friends/family.
I think it took a bit of courage on her part to ask for girl oriented gifts for her son, and only hope I handled the situation with some grace and understanding. We were really swamped that day, did not have much time to spend with her. Am very grateful for my faith and workplaces that have nourished my beliefs in justice and equality.

On Girls/Boys Novelty Kits | Edmund Scientifics’ Official Blog.

From the press release (click on the link above to also read the comments)

Posted on November 30, 2011 by Jason

We’ve received a ton of negative feedback lately on our Girls and Boys Novelty Kits categories, through emails, blog poststweets — you name it. We have also read a few other posts on the topic, on sites like Scientific American and MSNBC’s Cosmic Log. Today, I’d like to announce a change to our site — one that better reflects our beliefs.

We have officially removed the Girls and Boys Novelty Kits categories from our site and replaced them with a single Novelty Science Kits category.  Our original intent was not to project gender bias, but to organize our product selection in a way that makes it easy to find specific items. We now realize that decision resulted in a category structure projecting gender bias and defining gender roles. We regret that choice, as it does not reflect our intent or beliefs.

The product selection of this new category remains the same, however, as they are simply a small selection of novelty kits that aim to combine fun DIY activities with a basic exposure to science. These kits make up around 10% of our larger Science Kits categoryand a much smaller percentage of our overall selection of educational science activities aimed at children.

Our main goal is to help parents inspire their kids to explore the world through science. To help parents & kids expand on their interests and develop new ones they never knew existed. We take pride in our wide selection of subject matter, from advanced robotics and alternative energy to the basics of astronomy, chemistry, physics, and biology.

We very much hope our products inspire the next Ada Lovelace, Marie Curie, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Blackburn, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison. or Carl Sagan. On a grander scale, though, we just hope to inspire more people (especially young people) to be interested in science, to be curious, and to ask questions — we think the world would be a better place.

December 1, 2011 - Posted by | Psychology | , , ,

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