Tag Archives: toys

Study: Girls doubt women can be brilliant

A study published this week in the journal Science suggests that girls as young as 6 can be led to believe men are inherently smarter and more talented than women, making girls less motivated to pursue novel activities or ambitious careers.

That such stereotypes exist is hardly a surprise, but the findings show these biases can affect children at a very young age.

“As a society, we associate a high level of intellectual ability with males more than females, and our research suggests that this association is picked up by children as young 6 and 7,” said Andrei Cimpian, associate professor in the psychology department at New York University. Cimpian coauthored the study, which looked at 400 children ages 5-7.

In the first part of the study, girls and boys were told a story about a person who is “really, really smart,” a child’s idea of brilliance, and then asked to identify that person among the photos of two women and two men. The people in the photos were dressed professionally, looked the same age and appeared equally happy. At 5, both boys and girls tended to associate brilliance with their own gender, meaning that most girls chose women and most boys chose men.

But as they became older and began attending school, children apparently began endorsing gender stereotypes. At 6 and 7, girls were “significantly less likely” to pick women. The results were similar when the kids were shown photos of children.

Interestingly, when asked to select children who look like they do well in school, as opposed to being smart, girls tended to pick girls, which means that their perceptions of brilliance are not based on academic performance.

“These stereotypes float free of any objective markers of achievement and intelligence,” Cimpian said.

In the second part of the study, children were introduced to two new board games, one described as an activity “for children who are really, really smart” and the other one “for children who try really, really hard.” Five-year-old girls and boys were equally likely to want to play the game for smart kids, but at age 6 and 7, boys still wanted to play that game, while girls opted for the other activity.

“There isn’t anything about the game itself that becomes less interesting for girls, but rather it’s the description of it as being for kids that are really, really smart.”

As a result, believing that they are not as gifted as boys, girls tend to shy away from demanding majors and fields, leading to big differences in aspirations and career choices between men and women. “These stereotypes discourage women’s pursuit of many prestigious careers; that is, women are underrepresented in fields whose members cherish brilliance,” the authors wrote.

It is unclear where the stereotypes come from.

Parents, teachers and peers and the media are the usual suspects, Cimpian said.

But it is evident that action must be taken so that these biases don’t curtail girls’ professional aspirations.

“Instill the idea that success in any line of work is not an innate ability, whatever it is, but rather putting your head down, being passionate about what you are doing,” Cimpian said, adding that exposure to successful women who can serve as role models also helps.

Toy companies like Mattel, maker of the Barbie doll, have taken steps to try to reduce gender stereotypes. Mattel’s “You can be anything” Barbie campaign tells girls that they can be paleontologists, veterinarians or professors, among other careers. The campaign also holds out the possibility that a girl can imagine herself to be a fairy princess.

Rebecca S. Bigler, professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, described Cimpian’s study “as exceptionally nice work.”

She suggested that the stereotypes develop in early elementary school when students are exposed to famous scientists, composers and writers, the “geniuses” of history, who are overwhelmingly men. Bigler said it is important to combine that knowledge with information on gender discrimination.

“We need to explain to children that laws were created specifically to prevent women from becoming great scientists, artists, composers, writers, explorers, and leaders,” Bigler added. “Children will then be … more likely to believe in their own intellectual potential and contribute to social justice and equally by pursuing these careers themselves.”

WiGWAG gets ready for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday

Instant undies

OffTheWagonShop.com specializes in the unique and, well, the unwanted gift — like the gift exchange goodie for the office guy who still gets a kick out of tricking people into saying “underwear.” OffTheWagon’s “funny underwear gifts” selection includes Instant Underpants, which retails for $3.99. Compressed into a compact pellet, the underpants expand in water. Uh, oh. Emergency Underpants are packed in a little tin that fits easily in a front pocket. Allegedly great for on-the-go emergencies — or overnighters.

Stocking stuffer?

This time of year, WiG gets inundated with pitches from PR reps promoting potential gifts. This is one of the more unique appeals, made on behalf of the Fun Factory, an “innovator” in the adult toy industry: An adult toy is “the ideal self-pleasure gift that releases feel-good brain chemicals called endorphins — you know, the clear-mood, confidence-building and stress-busting feeling you get after a great workout.” Plus, it’s a tool to boost brain productivity and help with weight loss. So, a little something for those making new year’s resolutions?

Red cup collection

For that cousin or brother-in-law who religiously reads the newsletter from the anti-gay Traditional Values Coalition or the magazine from ultra-right Focus on the Family, WiGWag suggests a complete collection of Starbucks’ red “holiday” cups — preferably used. And, while you’re enjoying your pumpkin spice lattes, we suggest tweeting a selfie and “Feliz Navidad” to Donald Trump. The GOP presidential candidate with the ugly hair and uglier platform has suggested a boycott of Starbucks over the minimalist cup design and vowed, “If I become president, we’re all going to be saying, ‘Merry Christmas’ again. That I can tell you.” Let’s tell him.

Don’t wear and drink

What On Earth offers dozens of T-shirt designs for the “me, me, me” character on your holiday gift list. The catalog specializes in “Your Name” gear. This year, with the craft brew revolution bubbling, the company expects to print a lot of T-shirts with customized personal beer labels and logos. Just be a pal and make sure that your beer-loving bud’s acting responsibly when advertising his or her brew.

For the 1 percent that has almost everything

The 2015 Neiman Marcus Christmas Book is out and the 89th edition does not disappoint. You probably can’t afford any of the featured oddities, but it’s worth a look just to see what the handful of people who’ve made billions off your labor and tax dollars are buying this year. For instance, there’s a journey for him and seven of his closest friends aboard a luxurious capsule attached to a balloon that rises more than 100,000 feet above Earth for 360-degree views ($90,000 per person). And the KRGT-1, the first bike produced by Arch Motorcycle Company, owned by Keanu Reeves and Gard Hollinger. Framed of steel and aircraft-grade billet aluminum with carbon fiber fenders and front cowling, the KRGT-1 has a 124-cubic-inch v-twin engine that produces 121 horsepower and matching 120 pound-feet of torque. The limited edition vehicle comes with a two-day ride experience for two along the California coast with Reeves and Hollinger. Hotel and airfare to California are included, along with a donation of $5,000 to The Heart of Neiman Marcus Foundation. The Arch Motorcycle and Ride Experience can be gifted for $150,000.

REI’s Reddit adventure

Jerry Stritzke, CEO of the outdoor gear company REI, tried to capitalize on the Internet buzz about his decision to close all stores on Black Friday by appearing on reddit to participate in an “Ask Me Anything” thread. The session might have been intended to generate positive comments but it backfired when former and current employees hijacked the forum to complain about the company’s allegedly toxic employment practices — particularly the emphasis on selling REI co-op memberships above all other performance metrics, including customer service and product knowledge. After reading over the lively — and long — thread, we’re guessing Stritzke lost more customers than he gained.

ILLICIT FOAM

Smugglers hoping to give the gift of illicit Heinkens were foiled in Saudi Arabia, when customs officials intercepted 48,000 cans of beer with a wrapping that disguised them as cans of Pepsi. Drinking or possessing alcohol is a criminal offense in Saudi Arabia, ruled by an ultra-conservative Sunni government.

If you ask us, the smugglers should have stuck with Diet Pepsi wrappers — any confusion over the taste could just be chalked up to the lack of aspartame in the company’s new formula.

ASK THE EXPERTS: The best gifts this holiday season

“Unwrap” gift recommendations from local experts.

WiG contacted seven local businesses and organizations, each of which offered their insight into what you should look for this holiday season.

> MUSIC

Where: The Exclusive Company, locations in West Bend, Oshkosh, Appleton, Green Bay, Milwaukee, Greenfield and Janesville

In-house expert: Milwaukee store manager Brian Kirk

Best new LP: Adele’s 25 is the record to buy this season and available at the Exclusive Company starting on Nov. 20. $22 in vinyl.

Best classic rock LP: The Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers, whose Andy Warhol-designed cover has become as classic as the album. A real collector’s item. $25 in vinyl.

Classic jazz: John Coltrane’s My Favorite Things, which will jazz up any holiday party. $15–25 in vinyl.

Best local CD: Milwaukee band Testa Rosa’s new CD, Testa Rosa III, showcasing Betty Blexud-Strigens’ striking voice. $11.

> WINE

Where: Thief Wines

In-house expert: Owner Phil Bilodeau 

Best Chardonnay: Desparada 2013. From Edna Valley, California, this chardonnay is well balanced with lots of creamy butteriness and a nice acidity. $35.

Best Pinot Noir: Failla 2013. This classic pinot from the Sonoma Coast offers savory earthy notes and cherry/strawberry fruits. A nice wine to accompany dinner. $48.

Best Champagne: Michel Rocourt Blanc de Blancs Premier Cru. A grower Champagne (meaning they grow all their own grapes), this 100 percent chardonnay Champagne is a great value. $43.

Splurge wine: Pahlmeyer Jayson 2013. This red blend from Napa Valley is lush, hedonistic, full-bodied and offers a smooth finish. $54.

> ARTSY GIFTS

Where: Milwaukee Art Museum Store, 700 N. Art Museum Drive. 

In-house expert: Donele Pettit-Mieding, marketing and web store manager

Outstanding ornament: “Snowy Afternoon,” hand-painted by local artist Christiane Grauert, celebrates the winter season in Milwaukee at twilight and features the museum’s newly renovated lakefront galleries. Meet the artist and have her personalize your ornament on Dec. 3 11 a.m.-3 p.m. $24.

Best house guest gift: A set of Walking Milwaukee Cards, 10 mapped, self-guided walking tours of downtown Milwaukee that highlight the city’s iconic architecture. $20.

Clever colleague gift: The “Orbanizer,” a handcrafted wire ball, holds pens, utensils, craft tools and even flowers. $28.

Haute hostess gift: Midwest artist Laurie Freivogel’s handmade glass collection — silk screened images of vintage cameras on fused glass — celebrates the museum’s new exhibition, Larry Sultan: Here and Home, which runs through Jan. 24. Coasters, cheeseboards and trays run $18–$120. 

> PERFORMING ARTS

In-house expert: Dave Fantle, chief marketing officer for United Performing Arts Fund.

Best way to give back: Talk about the gift that keeps on giving — make a tax-deductible donation of $100 or more to UPAF and get a smart card offering two-for-one value on performances for each of UPAF’s 15 member groups, as well as discounts at local restaurants. $100.

Best holiday ballet: Milwaukee Ballet’s holiday chestnut, The Nutcracker, is truly a group effort, with featured performances from the Milwaukee Ballet Orchestra, the Milwaukee Children’s Choir, 150 students from the Milwaukee Ballet School & Academy, and of course, the Milwaukee Ballet company. Through Dec. 27 at the Uihlein Hall Marcus Center. $25–$105.

Best holiday play: This season, Milwaukee Repertory Theater celebrates 40 years of staging Charles Dickens’ beloved classic, A Christmas Carol, on Dec. 24. Wisconsin actor Jonathan Smoots will return for his second year as Scrooge, along with a cast of Carol-ers old and new. Tickets are $35–$85.

Best after-the-holidays show to look forward to: The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra celebrates the work of multi-Tony Award-winning composer Jerry Herman, with a one-night-only performance featuring songs from Hello, Dolly!, Mame and La Cage Aux Folles, among others. Jan. 13 at the Marcus Center. $20-$110.

> SPA TREATMENTS

Where: WELL Salon + Spa, Pfister Hotel, 424 E. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee.

In-house expert: Lisa Brandt, esthetician at Well Salon + Spa at the Pfister Hotel.

Best pampering package: The Pure Decadence package, featuring a hydrotherapy bath, an aroma glow body scrub and an hour-long massage or a facial, is the perfect way to eliminate holiday stress. $190.

Best pre-party prep: Airbrush makeup and a set of must-have party lashes create a flawless look for your party pics and selfies. Makeup, $85; lashes, $20.

Best me-too package: Give to you, your partner and your relationship with the You Plus Me package, which includes a luxurious couple’s massage and a couple’s hydrotherapy bath. $295.

Best treatment on the run: The Express Yourself package, featuring a 30-minute massage, an express facial and an express mani-pedi, is a welcome gift for the busy people in your life. $210.

> BOOKS

Where: Boswell Books, 2559 N. Downer Ave., Milwaukee.

In-house Experts: Book buyers Jason Kennedy and Anne Mechler-Hickson.

Best coffee table book of 2015: Milwaukee, City of Neighborhoods by local historian John Gurda and published by Historic Milwaukee, Inc. looks at 37 Milwaukee neighborhoods, from past to present. $45.

Best children’s book: With its gorgeous illustrations of homes of every kind — from an artist’s home to a bee’s home, a shoe home to a tree home, Home, by Car
son Ellis, offers insight into the meaning of “home sweet home.” $17.

Best cookbook: The Food Lab: Better Cooking Through Science, by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, teaches how to make the perfect pan-fried steak, homemade mac ‘n’ cheese, moist turkey and much more by using science as a guide. $50.

Best new series for teens: Set in a high-fantasy world similar to ancient Rome, Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes, the first in a series, tells the story of a slave fighting for her family and a young soldier fighting for his freedom. $20.

> TOYS

Where: Little Monsters, 2445 N. Farwell Ave., Milwaukee.

In-house expert: Owner Andie Zacher.

Best craft toys: Make-your-own snow globe/totebag/friendship bracelets/tiaras/swords and superhero masks are just the thing to conquer holiday break boredom. $21–$42.

Best musical toys: Encourage a love of music with a simple harmonica, an old-fashioned accordion or a microphone that comes with its own stand — not to mention background rhythms. $10–$55.

Best old school toys: All the stuff you grew up with is back, from the Simon game to Ross Across, plus record players, telephones, View-Masters, clocks from the ’60s and ’70s and all the old Fisher Price stuff. Let’s hope the kids get a chance to play too. $22–$40.

Best stocking stuffers: Sometimes the best gifts come in small sizes. Stuff their stockings with miniature toys, games, pretend play objects and a range of holiday candies. $5 and up.

Toy trends

1. The Force is strong. Star Wars: The Force Awakens has awakened a new enthusiasm for Star Wars toys for children and adults, according to ToyInsider.com, which reviews and recommends toys. The site has published holiday toy reviews and lists, including top tech and STEM toys.

 2. Communication craze. Kids have always talked to their toys, but now their interactive toys — Play All Day Elma, Hello Barbie, Clever Keet — are talking back. 

 3. Cooking up fun. Kids are cooking sweet and serving savory with Girl Scouts Cookie Oven, Yummy Nummies, Easy-Bake Ultimate Oven and Number Lovin’ Oven.

4. Construction with function. Toys to build vehicles, structures, people — Kids First Aircraft Engineer, Super Copter, Mighty Makers: Fun on the Ferris Wheel — now feature lots of moving parts.

5. Content creation. Digital games and app-enhanced toys — Super Mario Maker, Disney Infinity 3.0 Toy Box, Stikbot and Crayola Easy Animation Studio — allow kids to create animated videos and customize content and stories.

Classic toys ‘baby boom’ing

Nana’s list includes an Easy-Bake Oven for Pip.

Papa wants to give Gavin a Slinky.

And Aunt Connie is looking for Colorforms for all the nieces and nephews. 

Many baby boomers visiting toy stores this holiday season will be buying familiar toys for girls and boys. Some toys, like the Duncan YoYo, never fell out of favor as stocking stuffers. Other toys get updated year after year to remain relevant, like the Easy-Bake Oven — which now has both a dedicated heating element that retired the un-green incandescent bulb and gender-neutral packaging.

Hasbro holds the rights to many of the toys loved by boomer kids, their kids and now by their grandkids: Scrabble, Twister, Monopoly, Playskool and Play-Doh sets.

“One of the first Christmas presents I remember is a Play-Doh Fun Factory,” said baby boomer Paul Armstrong of Milwaukee. “I would have been maybe 4 years old. Like 1962. It was marketed by Play-Doh Pete. I loved it. Hours of fun.”

This year, Armstrong plans to buy a Play-Doh set for his 5-year-old grandson. “Of course he wants the Star Wars Play-Doh. It does look pretty cool.” The Play-Doh line features more than one Star Wars-themed set. The Millennium Falcon Playset features Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca and Darth Vader can-heads and fighter-jet molds.

WiG caught up with other early shoppers of the baby boomer age outside the exits of several toy stores and found them with purchases they didn’t know much about: Descendants dolls and Little Live Pets Clever Keet, Click-A-Bricks and Nintendo 3DS games.

“I’m still looking for a Doc McStuffins Take Care of Me Lambie — whatever that is,” Rachel Goodman, grandmother of three children, said as she left a store, unknowingly in search of a plush doll that sings a song when her tummy is pressed.

But many boomers’ shopping bags contained the tried and tested — Erector Sets and Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs and Tonka trucks, Hot Wheels cars and Barbie dolls

“I’ve bought so many toys for the kids and grandkids over the years. The fad stuff. The gadgets. The electronics. Most of it doesn’t last the winter, but some toys last forever,” said boomer Jen Miles, a member of the generation credited with giving rise to a U.S. toy industry. “This year, I’m going with the classics, what I know and what has value.”

Nevada Republicans sponsoring ‘Pop-Tart gun’ bill

Nevada Assembly Republicans are backing a bill that would bar schools from punishing students who play with toy firearms.

Nevada Assemblyman Jim Wheeler is sponsoring the AB121, which would forbid schools from punishing students that play with toy guns or pretend to use a firearm.

The bill also extends protections to students who wear clothing with images of firearms, use hand gestures to imitate a gun or brandish partially-eaten pastries in the shape of a weapon.

States including Florida and Texas have passed similar legislation after a highly-publicized 2013 incident in which a Maryland second-grader was suspended over a half-eaten Pop-Tart chewed into the shape of a gun.

Meanwhile, educators could still punish students for eating Pop-Tarts in class.