Lego Works to Take away Bias From it’s Toys
IMAGE SOURCE Alena – from Pexels
Lego announced it would work to remove gender stereotypes from its toys after a global survey commissioned by the company found attitudes toward gaming and future careers were unequal and restrictive.
The researchers found that while girls became more confident and interested in engaging in a variety of activities, boys did not.
71 percent of the boys surveyed feared that they would make fun of playing with “girls’ toys” – a fear shared by their parents. “Parents are more concerned about their sons being teased than their daughters for playing with toys of the opposite sex,” said Madeline Di Nonno, executive director of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, who conducted the study.
“But it is also the case that the behavior of men is valued higher in society,” says Di Nonno. “Until societies recognize that behaviors and activities typically associated with women are equally valuable or important, parents and children will be reluctant to accept them.
The study found that parents still encouraged their sons to exercise or stem activities, while daughters were offered dancing and dressing up (girls were five times more likely to be encouraged to do these activities than boys) or baking (three times more likely to be encouraged). .
“There’s an asymmetry,” said Prof. Gina Rippon, neurobiologist and author of The Gendered Brain. “We encourage girls to play with ‘boy’ stuff, but not the other way around.” This is a problem as toys offer “training opportunities,” she said. “So if girls aren’t playing with Lego or other building toys, they’re not developing the spatial skills that will help them later in life. When dolls are forced on girls but not boys, boys miss out on the skills to bring up them. “
The Danish toy manufacturer commissioned the report for UN International Girls’ Day on Monday. Nearly 7,000 parents and children aged six to 14 from China, the Czech Republic, Japan, Poland, Russia, Great Britain and the USA were surveyed.
“We’re working hard to make Lego more inclusive,” said Julia Goldin, chief product and marketing officer at Lego Group, the world’s largest toy manufacturer.
The Geena Davis Institute has been testing and advising Lego since early 2021 to “address gender bias and harmful stereotypes,” and the company has promised to remove gender bias from its offerings.
“Traditionally, more boys have used Lego, but products like [arts and crafts line] Lego Dots or Lego City Wildlife Rescue Camp are specifically designed to appeal to boys and girls, ”said Goldin. The Lego mandate is now to promote nursing and care as well as spatial awareness, creative thinking and problem solving.
The Let Toys Be Toys campaign was launched in the UK in 2012 to put pressure on children’s brands to expand their marketing and include both genders so no boy or girl would think they were playing with “the wrong toy”. A 2020 report by the Fawcett Society showed how “lazy stereotyping” and segregating toys by sex fueled a mental crisis among young people and limited perceived career choices.
That rubs off on the parents too. The Geena Davis Institute found that parents of both sexes rated men as “more creative,” scientists and athletes rated men six times more likely than men, and more than eight times more likely than engineers to rate men.
Goldin said Lego has no longer labeled any of its products as “for girls” or “for boys”. On Lego.com, consumers cannot search for products by gender. Instead, the website offers topics that it calls “Passion Points”.
“We’re testing everything on boys and girls and including more female role models,” said Goldin. The most recent Lego Con featured female designers talking about their work, while Lego’s Rebuild the World campaign focused on girls.
“Our job now is to encourage boys and girls to play with sets that have traditionally been viewed as ‘not for them’,” added Goldin.