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Gender Bias in the Purchase of STEM-Related Toys (Fundamental)

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Fundamental: Home, Parents, and Other Out-of-School Issues Related to K-12 and Pre-college Engineering Education

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.814.1 - 26.814.14



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Paper Authors


Jacob Inman INSPIRE Institute for Pre-College Engineering Education

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Jacob Inman is an alumnus of the INSPIRE Undergraduate Pre-College Research in STEM particularly in Engineering (UPRISE) Academy. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Engineering in 2014.

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Monica E Cardella Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Monica E. Cardella is the Director of the INSPIRE Institute for Pre-College Engineering Education and is an Associate Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue University.

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Gender Bias in the Purchase of STEM-Related Toys (Fundamental)As we endeavor to promote diverse participation in engineering, and particular promotethe participation of women in engineering, we must consider the many different ways thatchildren can begin developing interests in and understanding of engineering and STEMconcepts. Informal learning environments are one critical area in need of researchattention, as informal learning experiences provide opportunities for learners to developinterests and understandings that are grounded in the learners’ interests, motivations, andself-direction, but also allow the learner to explore an interest in a low-stakes atmosphere(i.e. without the pressures that come with testing).One way that children can begin to develop an interest in and understanding of science,mathematics and engineering is through the toys that they interact with. To investigatewhether there are gender differences in terms of interaction with engineering or otherSTEM-related toys, we visited the websites of three different companies that selleducational toys and analyzed the consumer reviews in order to determine: (1) who ispurchasing the toys (parent, grandparent, etc.) and (2) who the toy is purchased for (ageand gender of the child). The majoring of the product reviews contained enoughinformation for us to answer these questions, and in most cases STEM-related toys (suchas physics kits) were purchased for boys. From our analysis, we conclude that one way topromote the participation of girls in engineering is to educate parents and grandparentsabout the importance of purchasing STEM-related toys for girls.

Inman, J., & Cardella, M. E. (2015, June), Gender Bias in the Purchase of STEM-Related Toys (Fundamental) Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24151

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