Captain Marvel Author Shannon Hale Highlights the Problems With Gendered Library Programs

Her eight year old daughter said, "No girls allowed? That's not fair. I like robots."
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Author Shannon Hale, one half of the team that’s writing the new Captain Marvel young adult book, took to Twitter and the #StoriesForAll hashtag to highlight a problem at her local library: emblazoned on a poster advertising a robotics program for kids were the words “No Girls Allowed.” Hale said her daughter saw the poster and said, “No girls allowed? That’s not fair. I like robots.” Apparently “No Girls Allowed” is a monthly program for the library, and it’s geared towards getting young boys into the library.

In the replies to her tweet, Hale is quick to point out that the library is trying to address a very real problem: engagement. These days, libraries have to fight twice as hard to keep kids interested in reading and activities outside of computers. They need kids coming in, sure, but this is not the way to do it.

Excluding one group to get to another like this isn’t the way to go about getting kids interested in spending time at the library. This isn’t even to speak of the greater impact of making little girls feel like robots and engineering aren’t for them. This casual nudging out of girls from STEM-y topics needs to stop, especially at such an early age.

Lest we forget: robots are for everybody, as Cash Cayen and the Timmins Public Library now understand all too well.

It sucks to think that there are probably more than a few kids who’ve internalized the idea that robotics is or isn’t for them simply based on their gender.

You can do better. We can do better. We need to do better.

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Jessica Lachenal
Jessica Lachenal is a writer who doesn’t talk about herself a lot, so she isn’t quite sure how biographical info panels should work. But here we go anyway. She's the Weekend Editor for The Mary Sue, a Contributing Writer for The Bold Italic (thebolditalic.com), and a Staff Writer for Spinning Platters (spinningplatters.com). She's also been featured in Model View Culture and Frontiers LA magazine, and on Autostraddle. She hopes this has been as awkward for you as it has been for her.