Gender bias in toy brands results in products limited to two different markets: one for girls and one for boys. The same perspective prevails in stores, where aisles are marked as containing toys, clothes or bedding for either girls or for boys.
Toys aimed exclusively at one gender can steer them away from other interests. For example, toys marketed at girls often encourage passive play while those aimed at boys foster active skills. Research has shown that children are aware of categories and stereotypes from a young age, and in the absence of countervailing information, children will adopt these stereotypes themselves.
Toys can help young children develop the spatial, logic and analytical skills critical to science, technology, engineering and math. The toys and games that children interact with can mold their educational and career interests.
The Co-Founders of Click-A-Brick approve of removing gender markers for toys, because they believe this would be a significant move in helping to expose girls to STEM fields. Jason Smith, one of the Co-Founder of Click-A-Brick, denounces gender bias in toys. “As a society we need a workforce skilled in science, technology, engineering and math. In order to achieve that, we need to understand how media and marketing shape our values and culture. We need to change the stereotyped messages that holds girls and subsequently women back from STEM pursuits. If you look at our toy lines, we don’t market any of them towards a specific gender. We simply focus on providing toys that promote learning through play.”
Click-A-Brick is not alone in its advocacy. The result of campaigning by parent and civil groups has affected change. For example, Target recently decided to eliminate gender based marketing from its shelves. LEGO, the most profitable toy brand in the world, announced a new line of female scientist mini-figs in 2014. The result was the ‘Research Institute,’ a LEGO set that came with three female scientists mini-figures and sold out quickly after its launch.
The Co-Founder of Click-A-Brick, Georg de Gorostiza, criticizes gender bias. “We need to change the way we think about boys and girls and what’s appropriate for them from a very early age,” de Gorostiza said. “Their choice of toys matter because, inadvertently or not, we introduce social constructs. Girl toys tend to be passive while boy toys are about building or being creative. If we deny girls the opportunity to be creative, to take things apart and build them back up again, how will they ever imagine themselves as chemists or engineers? The toy sets at Click-A-Brick reflect this philosophy and we hope that by setting an example, other brands will follow and remove gender bias from their own lines. As a recent parent, I look forward to a world that’s not so prescriptive, one that’s not divided into pinks and blues.”
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