Boys and girls use playgrounds differently, researchers say. Girls use the swings and like to climb to the top of play structures and yell down at friends. Boys like to run around. This doesn’t seem to be a problem to me but the researchers are troubled.
The study, Children’s Use of Public Space: The Gendered World of the Playground, makes a link between boys’ dominance in the playground and their control over most of the play space, and equality gaps between men and women later in life.
. . . The study concludes that gender stereotypes rule in this realm: Boys tend to play in bigger groups and with more physicality, using the entire playground space broadly and caring less for the accoutrements of the playground; girls play in twos and threes, gathering atop the climbing structures, monopolizing the swings and preferring more complex play equipment.
The researcher wants to redesign playgrounds with more girl-attracting structures so girls will use playgrounds more and occupy the same square footage as boys. Why not require boys to swing and climb, while requiring girls to play tag?