They're even specifically labeled: the band on the Genius shirt/hat reads "Men's Cap and Tee" while the band on the Cute shirt/hat reads "Women's Cap and Tee."
I'm generally ok with the pinkifying of science. If creating bath salts in a home chemistry kit means more girls and women will get into science, that's great. But this display pissed me off. Men display their intelligence (which they are rewarded for), while women display their physical appearance (which we are rewarded for, but only if we make a patriarchal bargain). Not to mention, the men's display is taller - is it because men are, on average, taller than women, or is it because women's objects / women as objects are inferior to men? Seriously, there are so many things wrong with this display.
Interestingly, I found a number of similarly styled Genius shirts in a simple web search - this one is unisex, and the copy makes it clear it's for men and women; and this one is cut for and modeled by a woman. (Not sure what to do with the Cute Genius bracelet I also found, though...)
Discovery Place is a science museum, one aimed at school-aged kids. Men = geniuses / women = cuties is absolutely the wrong message to send. Even if the gift shop is run or managed independently, I'm baffled as to why no museum staff questioned this merchandise. Perhaps, as an anthropologist with a 2.5-year-old daughter who so far loves science, I should write them a letter.
Update (2/24) - I decided to send Discovery Place an email, through their contact form. What I wrote follows, but you can also send them an email if this post or the tshirts made you mad.
To Whom It May Concern:
I'm compelled to write this email in response to a merchandise display I saw in the gift shop this week. The display had men's tshirts/caps labeled Genius and women's tshirts/caps labeled Cute. It was baffling to me that, as a self-described "preeminent science education center," Discovery Place doesn't realize that this display is communicating an old and damaging gender bias in science.
As a biological anthropologist, I greatly enjoyed the Mummies of the World exhibit. But as a woman, a scientist, and the mother of a 2.5-year-old daughter who loves science, I was chagrined at the idea that she and I can be "cute" but not "geniuses." I have blogged about both of these topics (my visit to the mummies and the gender-coded tshirts) at Powered by Osteons. Of course, I'd be happy to include your response as a coda to my "Women Are Cute, Men Are Geniuses" post.
In closing, I urge you to reconsider selling such blatantly gendered items in your gift shop, as under-representation of women in science is a real problem.
Kristina Killgrove, PhD