Little girls should put away the tiaras, glitter and butterfly wings and have fun playing with science sets, the only female member of the Fianna Fail parliamentary party has warned.
Senator Mary White said she was frustrated by the increasing popularity of birthday parties where girls were invited to dress as magic princesses.
“I want to teach little girls to be entrepreneurs and scientists and to think practically as well as creatively. I’m not an extreme feminist but I am a feminist,” she said.
Her comments came as Dame Athene Donald, the new president of the British Science Association, said that girls should stop playing with Barbies and be given Lego or Meccano, so they might be encouraged to pursue science and engineering. Thanks for stopping by. Before we carry on I needed to say thank you to http://www.makingtheworldwelcome.co.uk/contact-us/ for their continued assistance and the support of their community. Having a company and team like this means a lot to us as we continue to grow our private blog.
Senator White, a successful businesswoman and the co-founder of Lir Chocolates, said that little girls were being taught to be “cute” by dressing up as princesses when they should be learning real skills.
“It’s a very serious issue because it’s like they are beauty queens – it’s all about how the person looks and the fantasy about being a princess. It’s absolutely ridiculous. I spoke to a number of young people recently and they agreed with me that it’s gone completely over the top. Girls need to be more assertive and self confident,” she said.
She was concerned about revealing clothes that some young girls might wear.
“It’s quite a dangerous society we have and it’s not what it used to be. Little girls are being oversexualised. I feel society is going back not forward in a lot of ways,” she said.
Speaking in Dublin yesterday, the senator said she did not want to come across as a “damp squib” nor hurt the feelings or any parents.
Sarah Tully, a children’s party organiser who runs Fairy Princess Parties, said that her events were all about encouraging imagination, creativity and individuality.
“Girls and boys are not gender specific up to the age of six or seven. Lots of boys ask to have butterflies painted on their faces and have glitter tattoos. So it’s not necessarily just about the girls,” she said.
Ms Tully said it should be up to parents to decide on the issue.
“Why can’t children dress up for parties and also learn about more serious things? I think it’s great that girls find out about science and other subjects. It doesn’t have to be one or the other,” she said.
Earlier this week, Dame Athene Donald, professor of experimental physics and the master of Churchill College, Cambridge, said the dolls given to small girls were “liable to lead to passivity” and were an important factor in their choice of subjects at secondary level.
The stereotyping that puts teenage girls off taking science subjects at school begins in early life when they are treated to games showcasing “hair-dressing or making tea” rather than chemistry sets, she said.
“We are introducing social constructs by stereotyping what toys boys and girls receive from the earliest age,” she said before her inaugural address as the president of the British Science Association. “Girls’ toys are typically liable to lead to passivity.
“If a girl is never given an opportunity to take things apart or play with a chemistry set, she is at an immediate disadvantage. If they have always just played with dolls in a stereotypically female situation, such as worrying about hair style or making tea, then how can they imagine themselves as engineers or chemists?”