Why dont females like model trains?

It’s something I dont understand. The model train gene.

I have been to many train exhibits from small “Thomas the Tank Engine” events to bigger shows and its something that always amazes me.

Scenario: The big model train display at Union station for Christmas. The crowd around is all male. Boys and men, all ages and races staring at the display. A few girls come up, look, and walk away.

Then at the train shows sometimes you see a woman working on a backdrop and some are there as vendors but its still almost all male.

I’m sure female model train buffs exist but I’ve never seen any.


Males, by biology and/or socialization, are more systemizing than females on average. Strong interest in trains requires a brain/mind that veers quite strongly toward systemizing.

Not just trains, but all transportation models. Cars, trucks, fire engines, planes, etc.

There are exceptions to the rule.

That said, men and boys tend to like professions and hobbies involving inanimate objects; women and girls on the other hand usually like professions and hobbies involving living things and/or representatives of them, and “fiddly”* craftwork.

*As in, the sort of thing that requires patience and dexterity to put together.

Because they are deathly dull? Little boxes running around on a track? Even duller than life-size trains, if that can be imagined?

Not speaking for all women here, obviously, but to be interesting to me, a thing has to be complex, as in literature, art, living creatures, relationships of living creatures to each other. Not machines. Machines are lifeless objects that do jobs.

My husband loves machines. He draws spiritual sustenance from them. He can crush a living plant (that I’ve nurtured perhaps for years) without noticing, but a broken widget that isn’t flapping or lighting up anymore is absolutely absorbing. He’s like an alien species.

This is the answer! Please note that Ulfreida said that she is NOT speaking for ALL women. I think that she does speak for MOST women.

IME, very few ladies are interested in any machine. As long as it does its job, they rarely show any interest in it. If it does not do its job, they may give it just enough attention to get it working again. After that, they usually ignore it.

BTW, I am very like her husband, one of an alien species, to hear my sisters tell it. :slight_smile:

I have no idea. I’ve always been fascinated by trains. I loved the HO-scale train set we had running around the Christmas tree as a kid (instigated, in fact, by my mother, although eventually my father did most of the model building), and it gives me a sort of low-grade background happy feeling that I now live in a city where I can just up and get on a train of some kind without any trouble.

I also have the same squeaky reaction to tiny devices that more stereotypical women have to babies and small animals. I went – and I am quoting here – “EEEEEEEEEE~!” many years ago upon going to replace a busted CD/MP3 Discman and discovering that I could instead buy a solid state MP3 player small enough to clip onto my keychain. A sequence of gaming handhelds and Palm PDAs kept me entertained in college.

I fully understand I am the weird one here. Doesn’t matter. More adorable gadgets for me! :smiley:

Being of the “fiddly”* craftwork type, I could be interested in building a model including the landscape around it, and appreciate the effort and techniques that went into building such a model - but watching pre-fabricated trains going in circles - no thanks.


I think the OP means “Classic exemplar scaled railway system”.

Have you ever seen Needful Things?

/Obscure I know

That is the one thing you sometimes see, a woman who has done a beautiful piece of artwork like a landscape used in a background of a train layout.

I would like to ask you, would a train with “girl” colors like pink have been more of an interest? They have made them in the past and the “Thomas the Tank Engine” series has some female characters. Would that have helped your interest?

I’d have to understand the appeal as a [del]man[/del]male before I could guess. Is there a lot of tinkering involved in getting it to work, like on a car or computer? Is it more crafty with building models to look exactly like the originals? Is it more of a collecting thing?

I mean, if it really is just watching some toys go in circles, then I don’t get the appeal either.

Yes, there are exceptions. I remember once at a “Thomas the Tank Engine” event where they have the trains set up and the kids can play with them. Well that day I’d guess there were 25 little boys engaged in typical wild noisy “boyish” play with the trains - and one girl. Whereas off in the corner they had a tables set up for coloring and around them sat about 8 girls all quietly coloring - and 1 little boy. It was quite the gender imbalance.

But then you see about the same at any preschool where the boys play in one section, the girls in another. It’s much the same when they become teens and the skateboard parks are about 90% boys.

Well, I enjoy the occassional train display, but not enough to consume myself 24/7. Working with real train cars at work was interesting; however, the lack of concern from male coworkers turned me off the job. Never checked the fluid levels, rough-handled the cars, trash all over the tracks, etc.

This is the best answer I think. I still don’t know why, but it sums up my experience in the matter pretty well.

Over the last 3 decades, our little family of four has owned a series of mechanical toys:
6 RVs (towable campers)
2 Go-Karts
6 Boats
4 RC Airplanes
2 Full-sized Airplanes
and a sizable variety of target/plinking/hunting guns

The male “half” of the family have learned to use and operate 100% of the above items.

The female half? Zero. Nada. Zip.

In spite of being offered unlimited use, and lessons in all the above, the wife and daughter have shown no interest in any of it. They ride along with us and seem to have fun, but the details of how the devices accomplish this are of no interest to them.

I realize these aren’t model trains, but I think it’s still relevant as mechanical “toys”.

You are indeed rare and unusual (most admirably so !). From the perspective of a – male – railway enthusiast (the real, full-size thing – I’ve never been into models): no doubt for the reasons cited by various PPs, it’s a “given” that very few women indeed, take part in this avocation – in fifty-plus years, I’ve met a tiny handful. At a guess probably on the “generous” or “optimistic” side, the ratio of male to female railfans could be perhaps 10,000 : 1.

My ex greatly enjoyed making interesting rail journeys, and visiting preserved steam lines, with me; but she stated that if we had not met, she wouldn’t have discovered on her own, the pleasures of this stuff.

Says who they don’t? I love trains, engines, and other mechanical devices. Of course, an early exposure to the originalflying queen” might have had something to do with it…

I love mechanical things, but I never got into trains because of the expense and the need for space. However, I love setting up Thomas sets with my son, and I love that he’s eight, so he’s into to the remote control ones now, and not so much just pushing the wooden ones around. But yeah, just watching something go around and around on a track is boring. It has to have switches and things so it can go different ways, and if I were into Lionel trains, I’d set the train up to trigger things in the background, and to have different paths it could follow. I love taking my on to train shows.

But I love all kinds of mechanical things. I once restored an old Ford Falcon, but I sold it when I had a baby, because I couldn’t keep up the word, and there was no place for a car seat. I hope some day to work on an old car with my son.

When I was a kid, I loved building Rube Goldberg machines, and I just started doing this with my son.

I’ve also bought some non-working things off eBay, fixed them, and resold them. I’ve done several vintage pachinko machines, for example. And I can fix a computer. If I can’t fix it from the keyboard, I can find the bad part (the video card, RAM stick, or whatever) replace it, and get going again.

My favorite toys as a kid were always building toys, like Tinker toys and Erector sets, Legos, whatever.

One of the best things about having a kid is being able to play with toys again.

Because the sexes are different. For the same reason straight guys don’t tend to like romance fiction, soap operas, fashion, interior decorating, shoes, dolphins, or horses. Well, horses were manly, but that was before they invented the motorcycle. Now girls can have them.

The stereotype, which matches my anecdotes, is that women interested in stereotypical guy interests tend to be tomboys. Not stereotypical butch bulls, but ya know, they were probably playing in the mud as kids or they feel ostracized from the feminine sphere. So there are women who love these things, or tinkering with cars, or Magic the Gathering, but they’re the exception that proves the rule. Which is that nerdiness is a masculine trait. I’ve seen it argued autism is a particular sort of extra maleness. I don’t know if that has much academic support, but it makes sense (especially with the stereotype that autistic kids love trains).

This is all perfectly reasonable. Unfortunately, it’s the sort of attitude that probably explains the dearth of women inventors and engineers. What I find interesting about biology and life sciences, where woman do well, is that it’s a little bit of both spheres. Cells are basically tiny machines, and they’re complicated like whoa. Lots of memorization and knowledge of impersonal systems.

That’s funny. Are you an executive at a toy company, by chance?