Princess or Engineer? Why Not Both?

Note: I am not a parent, nor do I plan on having children. I am however a woman in a STEM career, and was at one point a young girl. So I do have some sort of perspective on this.

My husband and I were standing in line at box store one day, and there was a display of princess whatever on the endcap. He asked me “So what do you think of all this princess stuff?” I shrugged, “I had princesses and Barbies growing up, and I still went into tech.” That’s right, I had Barbies. I played dress up. I wanted pink Legos so bad I couldn’t stand it (mom said no, we already had buckets upon buckets of regular Legos). Twenty years later I’m still an engineer.

The astronaut Barbie I had as a kid. Photo from Fashion Doll Guide.

The astronaut Barbie I had as a kid. Photo from Fashion Doll Guide.

Seeing the rhetoric going around the internet now though, you’d think that was impossible. Look at the fury around astronaut Barbie. People are outraged her space suit is pink. Pink! People wanted to know why it had to be pink of all things. Well, because girls like pink. And girls like cute. Barbie has always had cute space suits, the one I had in the mid 90’s wasn’t pink, but it was girly. In the 80s her space suit had poofy shoulders.

What this is boiling down to is you can be smart or girly. You can’t be both. This is why when I was in college I didn’t dress cute, because I was afraid I wouldn’t be taken seriously. It’s why when I go to an interview I wear minimal makeup, hair in a low sleek ponytail, and pants (never skirts). Because I need to look masculine to feel I’m taken seriously. And talking about how “bad” princesses are, and how “good” other toys are, reinforces this belief.

The princess or engineer false dichotomy is why I love toys like GoldieBlox. It’s girly and engineer-y at the same time. Plus, it has a book so throw in some reading too. It’s also why I’m not against pink legos (but I am against the “Lego Friends” and Lego sets in general. Legos should be a free building toy). They’re both examples of what we should be doing. Making toys that are still girly but have a learning element to them as well. Because frankly, girls still want cute. But there’s no reason cute has to be restrained to dolls.

We as adults need to stop making this an “either or” situation. It’s not. There’s no reason a girl can’t play princesses one minute, and build things the next. It’s all about balance. I look at Claire’s Geekling running around building stuff in her tiara and tutu. Princess isn’t something that’s limiting to her, she’s a princess who can build her own castle. Princess doesn’t mean a weak woman waiting for a prince to save her (which is the connotation we adults add to it), it’s just a pretty dress.

Tell us again how all princesses are weak.

Tell us again how all princesses are weak.

 

11 Responses to “Princess or Engineer? Why Not Both?”
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