White House Sponsoring Anti-Gender Stereotypes Conference

ashley.rae | April 6, 2016

The White House will be holding a conference to encourage toy companies and the media to “break down gender stereotypes” because not enough girls are choosing to pursue careers in STEM fields.

The one-day conference, sponsored by the White House Council on Women and Girls, the Department of Education, and the Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative at the University of Southern California will try to address the “gender gaps in our workforce.”

According to the White House, it is a tremendous problem that only 29 percent of those in some of the “highest-paying, most in-demand” STEM fields are women.

Although the White House vaguely mentions that teaching and nursing are dominated by women (the White House claims only 25 percent of public school teachers and only 9 percent of nurses are men), many of the programs the toy companies and media have “committed” to implementing specifically address issues impacting girls and not boys.

For example, Discovery Communications decided it will have female space historian Amy Teitel report on the Science Channel to specifically cover “the latest research on gender in the science fields.”

As well, Girls Inc. will be holding a “Girls Inc Week” to “counter stereotypes that limit girls and women.” As part of the week, Girls Inc. will host a social media event that will have “prominent women in the media” sharing their experiences with gender stereotypes (presumably, against women).

Netflix will also be commissioning two new seasons of its girl-centered “Project Mc2” show and “will distribute STEM discovery kits to encourage broader STEM participation by young women and girls nationwide.”

While the Girls Scouts said they will post blogs dedicated to highlighting “gender stereotypes in the media,” Discovery Communities stated it will gear its summer programming towards showing episodes that promote “gender equality,” and the Toy Industry Association, Inc. said it will “elevate” the conversation about “gender stereotypes in toys.” These pursuits are often designed to advance a feminist narrative that not enough women are involved in science - as opposed to getting men involved in fields like teaching and nursing.

The White House’s press release does not note that it is possible that girls and boys simply have different interests that may lead them to pursue different careers—and even want different toys.