Since the 1940′s, the color pink has been associated with girls and femininity. I’m not big on gender stereotypes, but I’ll admit that it can be handy to have a standard way of telling boy babies from girl babies without undoing their diaper. But once you get past the they-all-look-like-lizards stage, it’s not so important. Especially, I think, girls don’t need to have a pink version of something just to be able to play with it. Apparently, Toys R Us disagrees.
Not only do they offer pink versions of their science toys (because, I guess, unless there is pinkness involved, girls could never be interested in science) but, as famed biologist and prodigious blogger PZ Myers has pointed out, the pink telescope and microscope listed in a recent ad are significantly less powerful than the black and grey ones shown alongside them. To be fair, if you go to the Toys R Us website, you can get what appear to be the same exact models in black for the same price, but the higher end models are not available in pink.
Now, one could argue that as kids get more interested in science — be it outer space or the microscopic world — there is less need to offer equipment in pink and that entry-level devices should be offered in pink to draw in girls who would otherwise not be interested in science. But I also think Myers has a point: “There is a message being sent here. Being feminine, being girly, means you belong in a separate category in the science world, and it’s a category that needs less utility and more concern about appearances.”
I’m a big proponent of getting women involved in science — we wouldn’t have the computers we use today, were it not for one woman in particular — but I’d like to think that the wonders of the world around us are reason enough to get involved, without having to have your equipment, as Myers puts it, match your nail polish.