Women in the tech field are few and far between. That’s why I was excited when I came across an article titled “Half of Tween Girls Are Online Gamers” while perusing the Mashable archives today. Since I’m a woman working in the tech field alongside Ballpoint CEO, Susan Leigh Babcock, I excitedly clicked to learn about this new generation of lady techies. Ultimately, I was saddened by what I found.
According to a new report, “50% of tween girls between the ages of 8 and 12 are turning to the Internet for entertainment and social gaming.” I was excited about this. I don’t really care about how many girls are gamers, I care about the fact that girls are just as familiar with technology — one of tomorrow’s biggest fields — as their y-chromosome toting counterparts. So, this seemed to be excellent news. Then I kept reading.
The report came from GirlsgoGames.com. A gaming site that’s made just for little girls. How wonderful, our gender informs the games we can play! (Insert sarcasm here.) Go to their website and you’ll immediately see that EVERYTHING is wrong. Apparently, girls of the millennial generation (AKA generation next) are still supposed to grow up to be trophy wives, cupcake bakers, and Suzy homemakers. Let me just say that all of those professions are fine in my book! You want to be a trophy wife? That’s your prerogative, sweetheart.
My issue is that we’re pushing these professions on our girls. By showing them *only* stereotypically feminine choices, aren’t we limiting their options? Aren’t these stupid games, with taglines like “When it comes to cakes, Sandy is in a league of her own.” or “Charm your way into these hunks’ hearts. May the best flirt win.”, embedding these notions into a new generation of women?
Although I’m not in favor of these girl or boy-only gaming sites, why can’t the games they feature be a little more substantial? For instance, I love animals so I’m totally in favor of keeping the cutesy animal games. But, why can’t they revolve around the notion that girls can grow up to be veterinarians who take care of these animals? An animal hospital game would be so much fun! It would accomplish the same thing, but would concurrently give little girls something to aspire to.
I’m just saying that my ability to decorate donuts, apply eyeliner, or flirt with hunks didn’t get me through college. And those things certainly didn’t get me a job in one of the worst job markets ever for recent graduates.
Parents, game developers, and little girls of the world, we can do better.