Electrical engineering is, without a doubt, dominated by men. In 2011, only 18.4% of electrical engineering students were females, and there's a massive gender gap in employees holding STEM jobs. While attracting females to electrical engineering should be done throughout high school and college, there's another way: start getting girls interested while they're young.
Here are five great toys to get your little girl excited about electrical engineering:
More than just a cute doll, Lottie is smart and fun and uncannily good at building robots. This doll is a perfect alternative to beauty-based toys, and she's a good bet for toddlers who shouldn't be playing with small parts. If you also purchase the robot accessory set, your daughter can be introduced to very basic EE concepts, and it comes with suggestions for other hands-on activities
Instead of buying your daughter a dollhouse, why not let her build the house and then learn how to wire its electricity? Roominate was featured on Shark Tank and stimulates girls' imaginations by allowing them to build everything from doll estates to ferris wheels. Most intriguing is the circuit set, which introduces girls to electrical concepts. The sets are so popular that they're often sold out, so keep checking back for more stock.
A common misconception is that girls' toys need to be pink. They don't. In fact, gendered colors are very much a modern construct. SnapCircuits are fun, safe products that introduce children to the excitement of electrical engineering. Their base kit costs $34.95 and promises enough materials for over 100 electrical experiments. The pieces aren't pastels, but there's no reason girls won't get the same thrill seeing their handiwork in action.
Lego has been trying to push "gender specific" building sets for quite some time (which just means pink blocks with ponies), but the WeDo Robotics set is gender neutral and truly fun. Your daughter can build and program a working robot with this set. It's a little on the pricier side (about $140), but also comes with some fairly advanced parts like a USB hub and tilt sensor. And, because it's Lego, it's not going to be too sophisticated to be fun. Making her own robot is a surefire way to get your daughter or granddaughter interested in electrical engineering.
Sphero is ridiculously cute for an inanimate object. While it won't allow girls to alter its hardware, this amazing little ball is totally programmable and is a fantastic introduction to the software side of engineering. It's controllable through a phone or table and can change colors, play games, learn tricks, and whatever else your daughter tells it to do. It comes with free SPRK lessons that teach the basics of programming and is also a good way for your daughter to learn about things like inductive charging and Bluetooth connections. This is the modern Tamagotchi.
These five toys are guaranteed to get your daughter or granddaughter excited about building and creating. We need more female electrical engineers, and these toys are sure to spark a love for designing that can carry all the way to the next batch of EE