Thursday, July 7, 2022

Lego to remove gender stereotypes from toys to promote equality

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Lego no longer labels any product ‘for girls’ or ‘for boys’ (Picture: Getty/REX)

Lego has vowed to stop using gendered stereotypes in toys after a survey revealed children are missing out on essential skills that will help them in later life.

A total of 71% of boys worry they’ll be made fun of if they play with so-called ‘girl’s toys’ and their parents share this concern, new research shows.

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Meanwhile, girls are becoming more confident and keen to try a range of different activities – despite still being encouraged in ‘girls’ interests’.

The ingrained gender bias means kids may be restricted in their careers as many are not getting equal ‘training opportunities’, the study concluded.

Lego commissioned The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media to survey 7,000 parents and children aged 6-14 for UN International Day of the Girl today.

Answers came from all over the world including China, the Czech Republic, Japan, Poland, Russia, UK and the US.

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The Danish company has said it is ‘working hard’ to address harmful stereotypes and has pledged to remove gender bias from future toys. It no longer labels any product ‘for girls’ or ‘for boys’.

Chief executive Madeline Di Nonno told The Guardian the issue lies in the fact that ‘behaviours associated with men are valued more highly in society’.

In 2021, parents still encourage their sons to take up sport, science or maths while girls are five times more likely to be offered dance lessons and three times more likely to be told to try baking.

Ms Di Nonno said: ‘Until societies recognise that behaviours and activities typically associated with women are as valuable or important, parents and children will be tentative to embrace them.’

Prof Gina Rippon, a neurobiologist and author of The Gendered Brain added: ‘So if girls aren’t playing with Lego or other construction toys, they aren’t developing the spatial skills that will help them in later life. 

‘If dolls are being pushed on girls but not boys, then boys are missing out on nurturing skills.’

The new insights ’emphasise just how ingrained gender biases are across the globe’ Thelma & Louise actress Geena Davis, who set up the institute in 2004, said.

A Let Toys Be Toys campaign was launched nine years ago, but a 2020 report from the Fawcett Society claimed ‘lazy stereotyping’ was fuelling a mental health crisis among young people and restricting future careers.

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