It doesn’t seem to me that advertising chemistry sets and other science-related toys as unisex as opposed to being marketed for girls or boys would make much difference (C&EN, May 20, page 48). I say this because it is not true that advertising cooking toys as meant for girls only (such as the article’s example of the Hotpoint Toy Cooker) has resulted in a majority of women in the cooking industry.
Indeed, an August 2009 posting by Leah Koenig on the Saveur website claims: “A 2007 article in the San Francisco Chronicle reported that 91 percent of executive chefs are men who typically earn 20 percent more than their female counterparts.”
So, it would seem that the gender identification of toys may not be the major factor. It’s also clear that the low ratio of women to men, as well as salary differences between the two, extends well beyond science, even into areas that toys assign as “girl stuff,” and there would seem to be something more systematic going on that discourages women from professional careers in general.