Research suggests the United States is failing to engage minority groups in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). People of color are incredibly underrepresented in STEM disciplines, making up a paltry 7 percent of STEM bachelor degrees. The Associated Press claims “the percentage of African-Americans earning STEM degrees has fallen during the last decade,”which is likely a result of “a complex equation of self-doubt, stereotypes, discouragement and economics—and sometimes just wrong perceptions of what math and science are all about.”
Scientific American writer Maia Weinstock tells us that a myriad of factors are at play when we talk about minority groups in STEM fields. Educational access for minority groups is limited and public schools offer fewer Advanced Placement courses in STEM fields, particularly when enrollments are saturated with minorities. Public schools offer fewer opportunities for STEM involvement and fail to incorporate after-school activities that advocate science, technology, and engineering. Unlike the Viktor Rydberg school in Stockholm, Sweden, which we talked about in our last blog post, 5 Interesting Facts About Construction Toys For Children , public schools fail to prepare their students for research, coding, and general interest in STEM disciplines.
The default race for toys, games, and literature remains Caucasian. It’s difficult to find toys that incorporate STEM-related activities, and even harder to find toys that include people of color. According to Debbie Behan Garrett, author of “Black Dolls: A Comprehensive Guide to Celebrating, Collecting, and Experiencing the Passion,”racial inequalities exist at playtime- a time that should be used for exploration, imagination, and cerebral stimulus.
“When a young child is playing with a doll, she is mimicking being a mother, and in her young, impressionable years, I want that child to understand that there’s nothing wrong with being black. If black children are force-fed that white is better, or if that’s all that they are exposed to, then they might start to think, ‘What is wrong with me?’I think women know that they’re beautiful, but when you see a doll, it’s such a wonderful reminder of that beauty—because somebody took the time to make a doll in your likeness.”—Debbie Behan Garrett
As a society, we can do so much more to provide better depictions of ethnicities in toys and media. Maia Weinstock of Scientific American disputes LEGO’s claim that the color yellow was chosen as a character color because yellow avoids a specific ethnicity and children can assign their own individual roles to the LEGO figures. Weinstock argues:
“Here’s the problem: Yellow is a notably light color. And while many with lighter skin might see themselves in a so-called ‘neutral’yellow minifig, it’s hard to believe that people with darker skin have embraced this viewpoint, especially in recent years when minifig facial features have become much more detailed and colorful, creating contrasts that clearly designate yellow as a lighter skin tone…The company’s history with race typifies the way in which a claim to neutrality is often used as a smokescreen for a deliberate choice to exclude.”
We owe it to future generations to encourage minority groups to excel in science, technology, engineering, and math, especially at a time when STEM careers are on the rise. More toys that engage ALL ethnicities are important for children because they learn to identify with the toys they play with. Brackitz are just one example of STEM-approved toys that do not impose any ethnic prejudice or discrepancies.
About Brackitz: Brackitz is the only construction and building toy that actually lets kids design any structure they envision –anything! Our one-of-a-kind Brackitz enable connections at any angle, allowing kids to use real-life architectural and engineering principles to create large-scale, gravity-defying, 3-D structures –with no limitations!