This is something I’d never noticed before, but in retrospect resonates back into my own childhood. Referencing Clarke’s Third Law, the author of the following piece offers, “Toys marketed to girls don’t use technology; they use magic.”
…computers and electronics and alkaline batteries allow toys to do amazing things. Toy companies are well aware of this. But how they handle it depends on whether the toy is meant for boys or girls.
If it’s for boys, then the technology in the toy will be prominent in the advertising. The design of the toy and its description in commercials will suggest bleeding-edge technology.
If it’s for girls, then it’s time to break out the fairy dust. Even the need for batteries is hidden in fine print. Everything the toy does is attributed to magic or other mysterious powers. The girls in the commercials will act overawed and amazed as dolls move, dance and talk in response to voice commands… even though they probably see TV remote controls and personal computers on a daily basis.
The folks at TV Tropes add that this “might add difficulty to recruiting girls and young women into pursuing technical fields of study,” presumably because hiding the technology behind the toy prevents children (whose abstract critical skills are largely undeveloped until their teen years) from imagining and developing curiosity about the technical inner workings of their playthings. Or not. I’m reaching.
In any case, I’m trying to think of something truly “technical” that I played with as a child that was gender-neutral, but all I can think of is the Easy-Bake Oven, which is neither gender neutral nor technically advanced, or the Speak N’ Spell, which in retrospect reads male.
Can you think of any examples that prove or disprove Clarke’s Law for Girls’ Toys?