A comparative study on gender bias in the purchase of STEM toys Conference

Shoaib, H, Cardella, ME. (2020). A comparative study on gender bias in the purchase of STEM toys . 2020-June

cited authors

  • Shoaib, H; Cardella, ME


  • Children have opportunities to learn about engineering in a variety of settings: in classrooms, through afterschool or summer programming, or through exhibits at science museums. Children can also learn about engineering through interactions with family members or family friends who work as engineers, through television shows, or through books, toys, and games. In an earlier study, we investigated toy-buying patterns and found that adults purchase engineering-related toys more frequently for boys than for girls. We believe that this disparity may be one factor contributing to the underrepresentation of women in engineering as the engineering-related toys can promote interest in engineering and the development of engineering knowledge and skills. In this study, we replicate the previous approach to investigate whether there have been changes in toy-buying patterns over the past four years since the original study was conducted. We follow a similar approach as in the original study: we code online reviews for information about who the toy was purchased for (i.e. a boy, girl, or unknown) and who was purchasing the toy (parent, grandparent, other relative, other, or unknown). Our findings show that the STEM toy purchase for girl child has declined as compared to our previous study. However, recently k-12 teachers have emerged as STEM toy buyers. When teachers purchase STEM toys, this can provide opportunities for both male and female children to be introduced to STEM toys as early engineering resources in classrooms. Additionally, we observed engineering toys targeting girls (e.g. GoldieBlox, Roominate) are a game changer when it comes to the purchase of STEM toys for girls.

publication date

  • June 22, 2020


  • 2020-June