Multiple studies have shown that children are affected by gender stereotypes from a very young age. At school, there are questions that ask you to write about an inventor and tell the teacher all about him. Anonymusly marked math tests gave girls higher marks than boys but those same tests marked with names attached gave the boy the edge, suggesting that even the teachers have, an at best, unconscious gender bias.
For this reason, our family tries very hard to ensure both our sons and our daughters are given positive role models to support their individual aspirations instead of pushing role models that may or may not be perceived by others as appropriate.
So while Gabe enjoys shows that are typically considered ‘boys’ TV, we don’t force him to watch other shows he is not interested in. Meanwhile, Evey has a much more eclectic viewing preference; Lego Ninjago is just as likely to be on, as Lego Friends. Evey is a fan of math, science, art, and Minecraft. She wants to be a vet, or an astronaut, or a gymnast. Her heroes are the cast of Bindi Vet and Chris Hadfield, oh and she adores Deadpool.
SO who does she consider to be suitable role models on TV? Her favorite show at the moment is Project MC2 on Netflix. Two seasons are available of this show whose main characters are confident girls with interest in STEM, and they use their interests and skills to solve mysteries.
Apart from the realistic way girls in STEM are portrayed, the inevitable toy line to accompany the show is excellent. For her birthday in June Evey would like the Ultimate Lab Kit, the Ultimate Spy Bag, and the Circuit Beats. The only reason her list wasn’t much longer is she is restricted to choosing three possible gifts, and these were her top three. If she had her way the CO2 Rocket, Grow Crystal Chemistry Set, the Soda Can Robot, and the complete set of dolls would have been on there too.
If you are looking for positive female role models for your children (because boys need to see positive female role models too), you can find plenty of them on Netflix shows. Apart from the Project MC2 team, there are:
- Fuller House – After her firefighter husband is killed on the job, DJ returns to her childhood home to raise her three children. Helped by her best friend, Kimmy and her sister Stephanie the three women tackle single parenting and single life, as a team.
- HOME: The Adventures of Tips & OH – What do you get when crossing a tomboy girl, an alien and her sassy Mom? An incredible out of this world adventure where the alien is strong and the women are stronger.
- Glitter Force – When the magical kingdom of Jubiland is invaded by an evil emperor and his band of fairytale villains, five ordinary school girls into super-powered cool girls to defend the earth. Protecting the earth from fairy tales, magic powers, and evil villains isn’t an easy job, but the Glitter Force proves that nothing is stronger than friendship.
- LEGO Friends – LEGO® Friends: The Power of Friendship featuring characters from the popular LEGO Friends line. The friends in question are Stephanie, Emma, Olivia, Mia, and Andrea and their adventures in and around their hometown, Heartlake City, range from summer camp to the basketball court, saving their webcast or helping take care of a friend. The only thing that’s the same in each episode is the support and encouragement the girls give each other.
Beyond showcasing strong women, the shows your family watches on Netflix can inspire in other ways. Have you ever watched TV with your kids? Like really watched with them – what they re-enact, what they sing along with or what they dance to? Netflix has children and family programming that celebrates the arts and can inspire kids to bring the story to life through their own talents. Unearth hidden passions or help your kids explore new interests by watching enriching content on Netflix as a family:
- Discover artistic passions alongside your children with enriching content like Julie’s Greenroom — a new show starring Julie Andrews. The interactive show features a wonderfully diverse puppet cast that explores everything from singing to acting to writing and more.
- Uncover new desires and interests for kids with Project MC², a teen live-action miniseries that unlocks young girls’ interests in science, technology, and coding.
- Check out Beat Bugs, where parents can join in on catchy sing-alongs and share their love for nostalgic hits from The Beatles.
Not sure where to start? Check out Netflix’s list of “Shows to Grow and Learn By,” to explore enriching titles as a family.