British mega-store Marks & Spencer teamed up with the Natural History Museum in London to develop a line of t-shirts, pajamas, and underwear for museum gift shop. The shirts are science-themed, with pictures of dinosaurs on them, and they’re pretty cute. But here’s the problem: The British retailer decided to market the range exclusively at little boys.
The t-shirts reinforce the conditioning that many girls get, that science, math, and engineering are a male-controlled domain. And now, a campaign against the line called Let Clothes Be Clothes, is working to expand the line to both genders.
“We have a situation where a national museum and a national retailer are trying to get children interested in science and history and excluding girls,” Let Clothes be Clothes co-founder Francesca Cambridge told The Telegraph. “It’s a really sad message.”
“It’s classic gender stereotyping,” Cambridge continued. “That boys like rough and tumble and nature but girls don’t. It’s detrimental to the development of both boys and girls who are being told what they should be interested in. At what age do they think it is OK for girls to start showing an interest in these types of things? I’m really disappointed.”
And the pushback from gender equality advocates has had an impact already. A spokesperson from the National History Museum told the Evening Standard that the museum will work with Marks & Spencer “to ensure the range is accessible to all children.”
“This is a brand new partnership and, as with any new range, we have listened carefully to feedback from our customers on how they would like to see it evolve,” a spokesperson from Marks & Spencer told the Standard. “Our design team is working with the Natural History Museum on expanding the range to include products for girls.”
Big ups to the museum for listening, and bigger ups to those campaigners for making sure girls are encouraged, empowered and included in all things science-related.