The Girls' Play Project

Exploring the gender balance of play space use

Why can’t kids go out and play? — June 27, 2019

Why can’t kids go out and play?

This week’s infographic draws on a synthesised literature review I produced as part of a study conducted by Patricia Austin, one of my University of Auckland lecturers, in December 2017. Tricia’s study was part of the National Science Challenge (‘NSC11’) ‘Shaping Places: Future Neighbourhoods’ project, and my specific focus area was on children’s access to play in suburban neighbourhoods. As I started my research it rapidly became clear that children’s ‘independent mobility’ – the right to roam; to leave the house without adult supervision – was an integral element that influenced access to play. And as my infographic mentions, there was also a clear difference in boys’ and girls’ independent mobility – and this is what led me to eventually focus on gender and play more broadly. So, though it may seem like this infographic is less about girls and play, and more about access to play, it still contributes to the discussion about the interface between play and gender.

Given the large number of studies I drew on for this work – over 100 published articles – it isn’t feasible to provide individual links to the contributing research, but if independent mobility is an area of particular interest to you please get in touch – I may be able to share my reference pages from the work I produced.

In 2018 I also used my access to play findings to write this article for The Spinoff, rebutting comments made by a New Zealand journalist that modern parents were ‘too soft’ because they wouldn’t let their children travel to school without an adult. If you dislike older men telling the rest of us why we’re terrible parents, you might enjoy it.

(The original infographic I uploaded in this post was replaced with a less colourful version, after some feedback that the subtle colour scheme of the original might be difficult for some visually-impaired people to read.)

Researching gender and play — June 13, 2019

Researching gender and play

My name is Jacquelyn Collins and my academic interest lies in gender and play: specifically, whether we provide equal access to public play and leisure spaces for girls and boys, and how we can improve the gender balance of play space use. My interest in this area developed as I completed a BUrbPlan(Hons) through the University of Auckland, which I began shortly after my twins’ first birthday. I graduated in May 2019 (my son and daughter are now six years old).

Through my dissertation research it became clear that very little work has been done to explore the gender balance of public play space use. However, since finishing my dissertation and talking to individuals and groups both online and offline about my research I’ve discovered that, although people may not have previously considered the ideas I’m sharing, this topic resonates with many people. It’s very encouraging to see others beginning to have their own conversations about gender and play, and I’m excited to see what we can all achieve.

This page is a space for me to share relevant thoughts and ideas, drawing both from my Honours dissertation research and subsequent articles and presentations, and from my upcoming Research Masters, beginning in the second half of 2019. If you would like any further information about my work please contact me via the Contact form. You can also follow me on Facebook. I look forward to sharing more details of what I have learned to date, and hearing your views. Thank you for your interest in my research!