Parents and grandparents should consider the child's interests while buying toys, not their gender because limiting choice of toys according to gender can fuel stereotypes, suggests new research.
Clues to the continued dominance of men in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields -- and the reason nurturing often comes more easily to women -- can be found in the children's toy department, said sociologist Elizabeth Sweet from California State University, Sacramento, US.
"When we wall off the toys that develop spatial skills or are devoted to science and say, 'These are only for boys,' and we wall off the toys that develop empathy and verbal skills and say, 'These are only for girls,' it severely limits how children develop," Sweet said in a university statement.
Sweet believes that making STEM toys pink, as proposed by some toy manufacturers, would not help much. "I think that's the wrong approach," Sweet said.
"I think that plays up the stereotype that girls are so different that they need a special kind of STEM toys," noted. "Research shows that different kinds of toys help children to develop different kinds of skills," she said.
"For instance, building blocks are great for building spatial skills. Playing with dolls is really good for developing language skills and nurturing abilities. All of those skills are essential for a fully functioning human," Sweet pointed out.