Toys Enjoyed in Childhood Lead Women to a Career in STEM

What was your dream job when you were growing up? Apparently, many of us took inspiration from the toys we played with, and these toys shaped out future. A favourite jigsaw that couldn’t be put down or a board game that was constantly played could have had a much stronger influence on a current career path than anyone may have previously thought.

To coincide with International Women’s Day and in the spirit of inspiring young girls to follow their dreams, Wicked Uncle the internet toy retailer wondered whether the toys they had played with had influenced women to work in STEM – and their research with the help of YouGov may surprise you.

Bar graph of favoured toys by women in STEM during their childhood

Wicked Uncle has a small but agile female-led marketing team who are constantly looking at searcher behaviour before and after the purchase. The team got talking about research topics and, of course, their favourite childhood toys.  Noticing some synergies, they decided to research whether other women in STEM had been influenced by childhood toys.

An initial Google survey circulated on Twitter and shared by Neil Gaiman, revealed that Women in STEM on Twitter who follow the author self-reported playing with Lego most as children and that it inspired them. As a creative toy it was unsurprising to see so many women in STEM self-reported playing with Lego, but a number also replied playing with computers and chemistry sets inspired them. In fact, there was a range of self-reported things that were played with and inspired women in to a STEM education or career, but was there a pattern?

To find out, Wicked Uncle worked with YouGov to survey over 4,000 GB adults, with 2,162 being women and, specifically, 992 being women either working in STEM, or educated in a STEM field. 80% of all women said that they enjoyed playing with board games as a child. Games such as Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit and Scrabble are heavily focused on being one step ahead of the other players. Being able to think clearly and manage many different components of a board game are difficult to learn as a child, but incredibly helpful for future learning.

The second most popular toys discovered by the YouGov survey were wooden toys and jigsaw puzzles. 65% of women said they enjoyed playing with these types of toys when they were children. Wooden toys and jigsaws require logical thinking and patience, with the main focus on problem solving. There are many STEM careers that benefit from these types of skills, such as an engineer or a surgeon.

Surprisingly, science sets were at the bottom of the list! Just 23% of women said they played with and enjoyed STEM related sets such as chemistry labs, science kits and solar system sets. This was different from the initial self-reported findings and show that perhaps Neil Gaiman on Twitter attracts women in STEM who have similar likes and interests.

It’s clear that not all toys have to be about learning. More women had plushies and baby dolls than science sets, making them the third most enjoyed toys by women (64%). This selection was followed by action figures and fashion dolls such as Barbie and Action Man, with 51% of women saying these were enjoyed when they were younger. Being in tune with your logical and deep-thinking side is key to be able to excel in a career in STEM. But these types of toys can help learn about compassion and caring about others, which is just as important. Sometimes, this can be a reason people choose a career path in cancer research or medicine.

Mike O’Shea from Wicked Uncle said: “The women that broke into the male dominated industry of STEM are an inspiration to young girls everywhere, and in the spirit of International Women’s Day, we wanted to celebrate that. Toys play a huge role in shaping a child’s skill set, helping them to learn more about what they’re interested in. It is great to see that these toys had such an impact on these women when they were younger. It’s interesting to see how these toys influence our future careers, and we hope to see young girls everywhere picking up a new toy this year, that will hopefully inspire them to follow their dreams and achieve great things.”

June Virtual Girl Geek Dinner

We hope you are well in these extraordinary and unprecedented times. As we begin to see the world return to the new ‘normal’ we are excited to announce the very first virtual Girl Geek Dinner. These online events are going to become part of our new normal and will run as well as our in-person events (once normality returns). We understand that not everyone can get to the in-person meetups so this will be another way to connect and learn from one another.

To keep with the spirit of Girl Geek Dinners we have partnered up with a number of industry experts and a culinary expert to provide you with a unique Girl Geek Experience.

Register for our June event today. It is all about personal branding – Topics include:

  • Top 12 tips for a better SEO life – Judith Lewis
  • Understanding your personal character traits to develop leadership & and people skills – Linda Gale
  • ’The Power of You’ – how to build a life of opportunity, impact and fulfilment through the power of being yourself – Hannah Power     

The first round of tickets are now available

Alongside the usual Girl Geek Dinner topic’s we will be providing you with your very own Girl Geek home dining experience. Upon signing up you will receive a bespoke recipe and shopping list to be able to cook your very own girl geek dinner to enjoy whilst you join our online event.

We will include a vegetarian and standard recipe for you to make something amazing with us. And you can let us know how you are getting on via our social channels and share your creations using the hashtag #virtualggd – we love seeing what you create!

We look forward to seeing you all on Zoom with your culinary masterpieces!

Sarah & Chloe

Virtual Events Team


GGD #81 Girlgeek Dinners, Women’s Tech Hub & Bloomberg live at the ACCU!!

We are kindly being hosted by the ACCU again this year at their conference and brilliantly sponsored by Bloomberg.

The event will start with a presentation from Bloomberg (Details to be added)

We will then, as we do every year, use the event to give an overview of the GirlGeekDinners events – what we’ve been up to and are in planning for the year.

We will also update on Women’s Tech Hub workshops and it’s networking events. Then we will be inviting our partners and collaborators to present what they are up to. KWMC, Ladies that UX, WISE, Bristol Data Science and Machine Learning Study Group, CodeHub, Webdev101, Python Dojo and others TBC.

This year we have invited other meetups in the area who are looking to increase their Diversity to showcase what they offer.

Currently this includes the new South West Business Analysis, PHPSW, SW mobile and anyone else that comes to us wanting to showcase. Mail us on if you want to be included.

We’ve set up an Eventbrite event to allow people to sign up outside of the group should they be at the event or from out of town: please sign up here

This is an inclusive event so all are welcome but we shall favour underrepresented groups should there be an oversubscription.

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BGGD Reloaded #11 – Landscape Architecture, Podcasts and welcome 2020

The Gregorian Calendar has transitioned to the year 2020 – so let’s get started with the amazing world of podcasting, one of my personal passions (listening that is, not yet making). However, if you have wondered, how these things get done, join us and our guest will tell us all about how she created her podcast and what is involved:

About Win

Win is a Chartered Landscape Architect, practicing in a young and small-sized practice in Bath. She also writes for Land8 (an online social and information hub for professional landscape architects and students). With a huge interest in the theory and connections that encompass landscape as a whole, she started Thitpin Podcast in October 2019.

Landscape is a vast subject and on the show, she aims to explore the intersections of landscape with culture/ identity/ design/ art/ wellbeing etc.

Her guests to date have been a monk, an environmental journalist and a research psychologist. It is still in the very early stages of set up. During the talk, she will be sharing the knowledge shared on the episodes thus far – enabling you to start to uncover and explore the landscape around you from different perspectives!

She will also be sharing the future vision of the platform and hopefully get everyone involved in the growth of its journey via engagement and feedback.

Podcast Website:

Today, we will be back at The Guild, doors open from 6pm and we will slowly ease into this session around 6.30pm / 6.45pm.

So pop along, have a chat and a drink.

Candide Picture

GGD #80 Data Fuelled Growth: Why and How to implement with your product – by Candide

Brilliant News – we have Candide offering to host us for our first event of 2020. They’re a rapidly growing company with a beautiful gardening app (you can download it for free .. we have!)
They are rapidly growing, recruiting and keen to improve diversity in their tech team.

Helen Allsebrook – head of PR will intro the company and what it’s all about

Data fuelled Growth

How can you use data to make fast, confident decisions? Pippa will discuss how to use data and experiments to grow your product and how data can align marketing campaigns, engineering and product.

About Pippa Churcher

Pippa is head of Growth at Bristol-based Candide, the app for plant-loving humans founded in 2018. She manages experiments to optimise acquisition and retention, but her career initially started by studying Anthropology at university. She then worked at the National Trust, connecting people with conservation through events and marketing, moving to another technology company before finding Candide, where she helps create a digital space for plant and nature lovers. 

She also climbs a lot of mountains – the relevance of which will be divulged during her talk!

As always, we welcome men to our group, but to keep our audience predominantly female, we ask that all men are accompanied by a woman (just add a +1 on when you sign up here )


BGGD Reloaded #10 – Anthropology + Technology AND Networking

Apologies for missing a blog … the website was unfortunately out of action for a while, but it’s finally back and so is Bath GGD!

Tuesday, November 26, 2019 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Sometimes we like to offer a mixed bag of useful things and that is what you will get tonight. I recently attended the Anthropology + Technology Conference in Bristol, the first of its kind in Bristol and full of exciting talks.

The subject itself is so important, I asked Dawn Walter (the event organiser) to speak to us tonight about it: The intersection of human and tech and why we need Anthropologists within this area of tech in the first place. (

When it comes to conferences, some of you may not like to attend due to the dreadful task of Networking. But worry no longer help is on the way:

How to network for people who hate people

Do you want to know how to talk to people in a business social context without panicking and/or wanting to curl up and die? It can suck to network as an introverted person, but bona fide introvert and professional networker Margaret Davidson from Mayden Academy has found some ways to make it work – and even, sometimes, be enjoyable. Find out some of her shortcuts to making networking less dreadful. (

And tonight the meeting will be hosted by Bath Spa Uni’s new Enterprise and Innovation Hub at Palace Yard Mews. It is freshly painted and looks good.

Hoping to see lots of you there! Sign up here on our meetup page.

GGD #78 CAV and Safety hosted by Scott Logic

CAV is Connected Autonomous Vehicles and is seen alongside electric and hydrogen (and others such as fuel cell) as the future of the transport network.
It is already here in large parts with robotic systems in warehouses, lorry convoys, the tesla semi-autonomous cars and now with the Heathrow pod fully autonomous systems and a new semi-autonomous bus system being supported to run in Scotland next year.

Continue reading “GGD #78 CAV and Safety hosted by Scott Logic”