Lego has stated that it will try to eliminate gender stereotypes from its toys, after the findings of a global survey commissioned by the firm, which revealed that views toward play and future jobs are still uneven and limiting.
Researchers discovered that whereas females were getting more confident and eager to participate in a variety of activities, guys were not.
Seventy-one percent of boys questioned said they were afraid of being teased if they played with “girls’ toys,” a worry echoed by their parents. “Parents are more concerned about their sons being mocked than their girls for playing with toys associated with the other gender,” said Madeline Di Nonno, CEO of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which conducted the study.
“But it’s also because men’s behaviors are regarded more highly in society,” Di Nonno explained. “Parents and children will be hesitant to embrace behaviors and activities usually associated with women until communities recognize that they are equally valued or essential.”
Parents still encouraged men to participate in athletics or STEM pursuits, while daughters were encouraged to participate in dancing, dressing up (girls were five times more likely than boys to be supported in these activities), or baking, according to the research (three times more likely to be encouraged).
“These findings highlight how deeply established gender prejudices are throughout the world,” said Geena Davis, an Oscar-winning actress and activist who founded the institute in 2004 to challenge negative gender stereotypes and promote inclusiveness.
Prof Gina Rippon, a neurobiologist and author of The Gendered Brain, stated, “There’s asymmetry.” “We encourage females to play with “guys’ stuff,” but not vice versa.
This was an issue, she explained, because toys provided “training chances.” “As a result, if females don’t play with Lego or other building toys, they won’t develop the spatial abilities that will benefit them later in life.” Guys are missing out on caring abilities if dolls are promoted on females but not on boys.”
The research was commissioned by the Danish toymaker for the United Nations’ International Day of the Girl, which was held on Monday. It polled over 7,000 parents and children aged six to fourteen in China, the Czech Republic, Japan, Poland, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
“We’re working hard to make Lego more inclusive,” said Julia Goldin, the world’s largest toymaker’s chief product and marketing officer.
The Geena Davis Institute has been auditing and counseling Lego since the beginning of 2021 to “address gender prejudice and damaging stereotypes,” and the business has committed to eradicate gender bias from their lines.
“Traditionally, males have had more access to Lego,” Goldin explained, “but items like [arts and crafts line] Lego Dots or Lego City Wildlife Rescue Camp have been particularly created to appeal to both boys and girls.” Lego’s new mission statement emphasizes nurturing and caring, as well as spatial knowledge, creative reasoning, and problem solving.
Let Toys Be Toys was created in the United Kingdom in 2012 to put pressure on children’s businesses to extend their marketing and include both genders, so that no boy or girl believes they are playing with “the incorrect toy.” However, development is gradual. The Fawcett Society published a research in 2020 that demonstrated how “lazy stereotyping” and gender-segregated toys were fueling a mental health crisis among young people and restricting perceived job options.
It’s rubbing off on the parents as well. Parents of both sexes assessed males as “more creative,” were six times more likely to think of scientists and sports as men than women, and were more than eight times more likely to think of engineers as men, according to the Geena Davis Institute.
Lego no longer labels its goods “for females” or “for boys,” according to Goldin. Customers on Lego.com are unable to search for items based on their gender. Instead, the website provides “passion points,” which are themes.
“We’re putting everything through its paces with both boys and girls, and we’re incorporating more female role models,” Goldin added. Female designers spoke about their work at the recent Lego Con, and Lego’s Rebuild the World campaign focused on females.
“Our role today is to encourage boys and girls who wish to play with sets that may have been considered ‘not for them’ in the past,” Goldin said.