VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Jan. 14, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) —
Ace & Riley is a Vancouver-based toy company tired of seeing gendered toys persist on toy shelves and is actively producing toys to disrupt this through offering little girls the same opportunities to develop their brains that have long been afforded to little boys.
A photo accompanying this announcement is available at https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/1952d75c-6c79-49d2-bfb8-fd8634ef2492
“When we’re looking at the big picture, women make up more than 50% of the workforce, however, they only make up 20% of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) careers, occupying only 9% of engineering roles,” remarked Dr. Amy Tanner, Founder and CEO of Ace & Riley, a toy company intent on disrupting this pattern.
For Dr. Tanner, a Pediatric Behaviour Consultant who has spent her career working with children in understanding brain development, these statistics are not only shocking, but avoidable.
How, one might ask, can we seek to avoid such gender disparities within STEM fields?
The answer to this lies in offering little girls the same opportunities to develop their brains that have long been provided to little boys through play.
Based on this principle, Dr. Tanner founded Ace & Riley in early 2020 as a toy making company specializing in “STEM for the modern day girl.” The women-run Vancouver based startup was founded as a solution to transform the way girls play. Through recognizing that the massive gender gap in post-secondary STEM programs and STEM careers can be traced back to a child’s cognitive development in their primitive years, Ace & Riley is creating cognitively enriching toys that are marketed towards girls.
And with her years of experience working with the neuro-development of the childhood brain, Dr. Tanner is well aware that the best way to maximize learning is through role-play and storytelling. By simply including these elements into teaching practices, it is proven to be 20 times easier for children to remember and accurately retain information.
With this in mind, Ace & Riley scientists can find the essential materials to create their own personal lab within the “Curie”osity Signature Science Set. Named after renowned scientist Marie Curie, who was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize after obtaining her Doctor of Science degree in 1903, the kit is equipped with the essential pieces to combine play with learning. This includes 1 Lab Coat with an official name badge, 1 Pair of Safety Goggles, a 52 Piece Microscope Set, and an epic grey Tutu.
“I want to bridge the gap that you can love to be girly and do pretend play, while working on the brain at the same time,” commented Dr. Tanner in regard to her choice to include dress up items within the “Curie”osity set.
The company’s website states that they are, “…committed to leveling the playing field for girls by creating toys, activities and experiences that promote curiosity, problem-solving and exposure to foundational STEM skills while embracing and encouraging a lot of SASS.” This mission is made abundantly clear when perusing Ace & Riley’s collection of creative kits that appeal to little girls (and adults who are wondering if that grey tutu can be made in their size…).
Toy’s: The OG Influencers
For many parents, life can be busy, and toys are often employed to distract little ones while dinner is being cooked or an important phone call is being had. In these scenarios, it is more than fair for burnt out parents to wonder, “they’re just toys… is it really that big of a deal?”
The answer to this question is, yes, it is actually a huge deal.
Between the ages of 0-6, a child’s brain is rapidly developing and incredibly impressionable. It is during this time that children are most exposed to toys and play. Given this, the toys that are marketed towards children of this age are incredibly impactful on their cognitive development.
Despite the significance that toys play during these primitive years, gendered toys remain more prevalent than ever.
“When we walk down the toy aisle and we see gender assigned to toys, it keeps reinforcing that these things are for girls and these things are for boys,” explained Dr. Tanner in a recent interview with Global TV.
“That in itself isn’t awful,” Dr. Tanner continued, “but it reinforces that we haven’t created boys and girls toys equally.”
To this, Dr. Tanner is referring to the fact that the ‘boys’ toy aisle is filled with construction sets, interconnecting blocks, train tracks, rocket-ships, robots, and much more. Toys of this nature develop STEM skills through promoting innovation, creativity, and exploration.
In contrast, girls toys promote domestic bliss.
“What you’ll see when you walk down the girls’ aisle are a ton of toys largely around domestic roles,” Dr. Tanner commented. “You’re going to see a ton of babies, lots of kitchen sets teaching girls how to cook with every cooking utensil… you’re even going to see cleaning items like mops, brooms, and dustpans marketed as toys. Then you’ll see a whole section all around self-enhancement with makeup and nails and hair.”
The unfortunate reality is that few to none the typical “girls” toys target STEM development, creating a barrier to entry for careers in this field before little girls have even turned 7 years old.
Childs Play or Marketing Tactics?
If you’re saying to yourself, “I get it, but every time my daughter and I go to the toy store, all she cares about are Polly Pocket’s and Frozen Dress-Up outfits, I think she is just more interested in those toys than science experiments,” you’re not alone.
Society has done a wonderful job branding what is deemed as “toys for boys” and “toys for girls,” and this has distorted the selection process of children when they wander down a toy aisle.
“The data is showing clearly that marketers are still segmenting children into highly-stereotypical categories by gender,” commented Rebecca Hains, an advertising and media studies professor at Salem State University who is very familiar with the subtle tactics that global toy making companies use to market their products towards girls or boys.
Were it not for such targeted advertising tactics, data indicates that little girls wouldn’t necessarily gravitate towards pink baking sets and little boys wouldn’t race towards a tonka truck.
This was proven in the BBC documentary, No More Boys and Girls, where Dr. Javid Abdelmoneim had toddlers dressed in clothing opposite of what their gender would typically wear, and explored how adults interacted with them in play. What the study found was that subconsciously, adults encouraged the toddlers to play with toys that “matched” the gender they appeared to be, providing girls with more dolls and fluffy toys, and boys with more rough-housing and bikes.
Though this study attracted controversy, it was successful in demonstrating that the toys that children choose to play with are far less the product of their own volition and much more the product of their environment and exposure.
For the many parents who struggle to encourage their little girls to play with toys that have long been stereotyped as “boys toys,” Ace & Riley is providing a solution.
As an aunt to two little girls herself, Dr. Tanner is aware of the allure that feminine dress up items create. “My nieces absolutely love Frozen, and they wake up every morning wanting to dress up like Elsa,” she recalled. “I want Ace & Riley to embrace the feminine side of play, while also developing the cognitive pathways that are required for success in STEM fields.”
What Ace & Riley is providing to little girls is opportunity. Given the disturbingly low numbers of women occupying careers in STEM fields, it is evident that equal opportunity has not been provided in the past. A combination of gendered toys and marketing tactics are unfairly providing little boys with the opportunity to develop their STEM skills at a rate far beyond what is available to little girls, and it is due time to make a change. The Ace & Riley Science Collection kits come equipped with all the essentials to help little girls embrace this opportunity, while making it exhaustion free for busy moms and dads.
Company Name: Mindful Media PR
City: West Vancouver
Email: [email protected]
SOURCE: Mindful Media PR