Are toys really gender biased?

March 7, 2015

In an age that advocates gender equality, should it still be an issue whether toys are designated for boys or girls?
Equality has never been more integrated into society, yet toys continue to be segregated by gender.So, if toys are designed to appeal more or less to boys or girls, and vice-versa, are manufacturers aware that they are actually authenticating the separation of gender based activities? And if so, is it really a big deal? Here's a breakdown.

Are toys really gender biased?

Toys typically associated with boys:

  • Trucks, model cars, vehicles of all kinds;
  • Video games;
  • Blocks;
  • Sports accessories.

Toys typically associated with girls:

  • Dolls;
  • Houses, miniaturized furniture;
  • Artistic accessories;
  • Fashion accessories.

Since toys and games are categorized this way, it's important to allow children to make up their own minds without fear of judgement. Children discover different facets of life at their own pace, and it’s normal for their preferences to change—and frequently for that matter.

Categories of toys can also contain a variety of sub-groups that apply to both genders. For example, if dolls or toy babies are more appealing to girls in general, then plastic figurines with the effigy of a superhero will appeal to boys.

Old habits die hard

The toy industry still seems to think they can make money from selling toys based on pre-conceived notions that some games and toys are biologically intended for one gender or the other. By that logic, if building blocks sold in model kits are more associated with boys, then a feminine alternative should also be available. This example rings true for most toys.

No judgment

While experts claim that gender-biased marketing strategies are deceptive and dangerous, it’s possible to counteract this type of marketing by expanding on the selection of toys offered to children.

A little boy who suddenly starts to cook or a girl who plays with miniature shovels and hammers is not necessarily a problem. This can demonstrate a future skill, or the discovery of a new ability. It's also a testament to their independent thinking.

Video games set a good example

Meanwhile, gaming is the most progressive in terms of gender neutrality and is less preoccupied with engaging only boys or girls. Today, girls, teenage girls and even women are proud to identify themselves as avid "gamers." Fortunately, when it comes to technology, the line separating the boys from the girls is shrinking every year.

Pink and blue

Toy de-gendering is still a relatively new social trend. Toy makers, while feeling some pressure from consumer groups, are still behind in terms of gender biased marketing practices. Toys are still assigned pinks and blues as stereotypes to target kids separately.

The onus is on new parents to determine what games their children will enjoy, regardless of clichés and stereotypes. The object is to positively influence children’s personalities and social development with openness and tolerance.

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