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According to the Experts (and further reading)


Further reading about what the experts across a range of disciplines say…

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has published some ‘question & answer’ style articles including information from researchers in the field of gender and how toy marketing and selection relates to gender development. They have also compiled a list of toys that promote healthy development and education of young children according to their age.

What the Research Says: Gender-Typed Toys

What the Research Says: Impact of Specific Toys on Play

Good Toys for Young Children by Age and Stage

Gendered Horizons: Boys’ and girls’ perceptions of job and career choices; A report for the Agile Nation Project at Chwarae Teg (Fair Play). The findings of this research will form an evidence base about what influences children and young people when thinking about jobs and careers and any differences between genders arising in this context.

Dr. Christia Spears Brown is a psychology professor who does research with kids. For more than a decade, she has focused on the truly damaging effects of gender stereotypes on children. Dr. Spears Brown writes an excellent blog and recently released a book ‘Parenting Beyond Pink and Blue: How to Raise Your Kids Free of Gender Stereotypes’.

Dr. Elisabeth Sweet is a sociologist and Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of California, Davis. Dr. Sweet’s current research focuses on gender and children’s toys and more broadly in the intersection between gender inequality and culture as well as the sociology of the family and the sociology of childhood. Elizabeth wrote New York Times article ‘How Disney turned Frozen into a cash cow’ among many others about the return of gender based marketing.

Why Does Gender Matter? Counteracting Stereotypes With Young Children. This journal article asks the question ‘how do young children’s experiences with gender biases affect their development and opportunities for leading successful lives? What can teachers do to counteract these stereotypes? Professor of Early Childhood Education Olaiya E. Aina and Assistant Professor Petronella A. Cameron.

Bullied is a well-researched guide to combating bullying written by Carrie Goldman whose daughter Katie wasn’t interested in being like all the other girls; a big Star Wars fan, she loved her Star Wars water bottle. Her mother was concerned when Katie told her she didn’t want to bring the water bottle to school anymore. When Goldman pressed her, Katie broke down in tears, upset that the boys at school told her that Star Wars was only for boys. “Is this how it starts?” she asked herself…

The Force’ is with you, Katie is an article published by CNN about the above.

Delusions of Gender: How our minds, society and neurosexism create gender differences’ written by neuroscientist Cordelia Fine. An excellent read. One reviewer said “Fine’s engaging book is filled with… debunking of myths. Fine’s writing is clear and accessible, with many examples that would be funny if they were not, well, horrifying in how they perpetuate unfounded gender stereotypes. Good ammunition for arguments with people who think science has incontrovertibly shown biological bases for gender differences such as mathematical ability. At the same time, they are not simply claiming that “it is all culture” or that science can play no role in understanding gender. Both Fine and Jordan-Young want better science, not less of it.” Professor Marlene Zuk, Quarterly Review of Biology

Achilles Effect – What pop culture is teaching our boys about masculinity… A great resource for articles relating to gender stereotyping and the impact current expectations of masculinity have on our boys.

A recent AUSTRALIAN Toys R Us catalogue (November 2014) “Book 7 – Toys and Learning”. Some pages in this catalogue demonstrate Toys R Us is capable of producing more inclusive catalogues to advertise toys using far fewer gender stereotypes. Here they’ve (mostly) used developmental stages and activity types to guide shoppers. This year they published “gender neutral” catalogues in Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and France. Is it finally catching on in Australia? Sadly this catalogue seems to be somewhat of an anomaly. Can you spot the gender stereotypes turned on their heads?

Toys R Us Scolded for gender discrimination ‘The Local’ newspaper in Sweden reported in 2009 that a group of concerned middle school students reported Toys R Us to a self-regulatory agency, which polices marketing and advertising communications in Sweden to ensure they are in line with guidelines set out by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). The company was found to have “discriminated based on gender”, their advertising “counteracts positive social behaviours, lifestyles, and attitudes”.

In the UK activists ‘Let Toys Be Toys’ are also campaigning to end gendered marketing of toys. In the USA ‘A Mighty Girl’ have raised a petition do the same.

Medical myths:

The Pink Vs Blue Gender Myth. An article by BBC investigating studies on colour preferences and gender.
The fightback against gendered toys: Do all girls really want to play with dolls and tea sets? Do all boys want guns and trucks? Of course not. Then why are toymakers so aggressive in marketing these stereotypes? Guardian article written in April this year.
@GenderDiary on Twitter. A Mother and Father team, “Tweeting about our 6 year old girl and 3 year old boy and how people treat them differently”.

When kids play across gender lines CNN Living reports on Britain’s biggest department store, Harrod’s, as they also took steps in 2012 to redesign the layout of their toy section, organizing by theme, rather than using colour coding or labels to segregate into gender. The author discusses how gendered marketing increases instances of bullying towards children who dare to step outside the rigid boundaries of ‘boy’ and girl’ in their play.

Down With Toy Apartheid: The Gender Apocalypse Of The Playroom Can’t Come Soon Enough (Deadspin): Tom Scocca attacks the idea that gendered toy marketing is a response to children’s desires rather than a social construction that children pick up.

Are pink toys turning girls into passive princesses? The Guardian: This article outlines several studies on the possibility of a scientific basis for colour preference between the different genders, and how any statistical bias has been warped and mutated by highly gendered marketing.


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