Toys and Gender Roles: Why it matters.
Do you choose toys for children targeted towards a specific gender role?
Toys and Play
Play is crucial to how children develop and learn about the world and children need access to a range of toys and play experiences.
- Toys focused on construction and technologies develop spatial skills.
- Puzzles teach problem solving and patience.
- Role play toys teach social skills.
- Arts and craft help develop fine motor skills and creativity
- Outdoor toys, bats, balls and sporting teaches children to be active
Boys and girls need to develop in all of these areas however the stores are clearly directing the traffic. Stores separate and colour code toys. Pink girl aisles and blue boy aisles are alive and well.
Children learn about what it means to be a man or a woman through pretend play and toy manufacturers’ market gender-specific toys towards to girls and boys, perpetuating traditional gender roles.
You don’t have to believe me, there is plenty of research to back this us. American researcher, Professor Judith Blakemore, found that girls’ toys were associated with physical attractiveness, nurturing, and domestic skill, whereas boys’ toys were rated as violent, competitive, exciting, and somewhat dangerous.
The toys rated as most likely to be educational and to develop children’s physical, cognitive, artistic, and other skills were typically gender neutral or moderately masculine.
Preference for colour is learned not innate.
Studies have demonstrated the preference to choose a gender stereotype colour is at about the age of two.Children see the patterns and soon learn the social “rules”. Most construction toys are in the boy aisles and art and craft and kitchen toys seem to be missing from them.
Remember it is not usually the children buying the toys so who is providing the message?
It would be great is stores organised toys by theme and function rather than gender. There’s no need for ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ aisles: take down the pink and blue signs in stores and on packaging, and instead let toys be toys.