On average, girls’ spatial skills, the ability to translate 2-D sketches into 3-D or rotate an object mentally, are weaker than boys’ spatial skills. David Lubinski, a professor of psychology at Vanderbilt University says, “It is one of the largest cognitive gender differences.” Toy manufacturers say they have an answer.

  • There is a direct relationship between spatial ability and the ability to enter the career fields demanding advanced math and science skills.  Researchers have found that the difference in this skill between boys and girls is not only a function of biology but also linked to how kids play. The idea is that the more one’s spatial skills are developed the more opportunities to develop skills in Math and Science.
  • Toy manufacturers are actually a part of this discussion. It is thought that playing with construction toys can help develop spatial skills. When these traditional toys are combined with circuitry and wiring, kids are developing spatial skills and skill in electronics.
  • Toy companies are making construction toys more appealing to young girls. Making these building toys more female-friendly is more than simply making the building materials out of colors girls prefer. Toy manufacturers are combining building skills with story-telling.  The girls are not simply constructing a building.  With the Lego Friends line, for example, they are making a tree house for a character named Olivia.
  • And it’s working (at least from the toy manufacturers point of view).  According to Michael McNally, brand relations director at Lego Systems, “In 2011, 91% of Lego sets were purchased by boys.   One year later, in 2012, Lego’s top-selling building set was “Olivia’s House.  Only one year after they launched a girls’ line, 3 times as many girls were building with Lego blocks.
  • Will this mean more girls in the fields of Math and Science in the next decade? Only time will tell.
  • The take-away for parents? Mom and Dad, you can help your daughter accentuate her God-given skills with an innovative building toy.

What is your experience with these construction toys geared for girls?

photo: Flickr

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