It’s time for gender equality in children’s toys

The Easy-Bake Oven from Hasbro has been around for generations, but it now comes in a variety of colors, including pink and black.

The Easy-Bake Oven from Hasbro has been around for generations, but it now comes in a variety of colors, including pink and black.

By Morgan Buchanan, Linganore HS, Frederick, Md.

It’s 2014 and society seems to be progressing right? In many aspects, yes, but in the realm of gender equality it seems as if we have regressed to the 1950s. This inequality is greatly present in children’s toys.

Walk into any toy store and you see the great division. The “boys” and “girls” signs are suspended from the ceilings, as if the blue and pink color-coded sections weren’t enough. Children are expected to go to their designated areas and choose from the selected toys society deems OK for their gender.

In the “girls” section, one would find items revolving around housework, cooking and cosmetics, while in the boys sections, there are items related to science and mechanics. The message being sent is that girls belong in the kitchen doing domestic work, while boys can go out and use their brains.

Toys should be a tool for creativity and learning, so why is there a gender bias on our youth’s educational play? Girls can benefit from making a volcano or building a toy car, whereas boys can benefit from playing chef on a plastic stove or caring for a baby doll.

According to The Washington Post, one in three children are being raised without the presence of a father. Could this be due to the lack of toys revolved around domestic work for boys?

And according to the U.S. Department of Labor, since 1999, 12,000 of the 837,000 automobile service and repair technicians were women, a mere 1.4 percent. Is this because the mechanics toys are found in the “boys” section?

Just because there is a new line of Pink Nerf guns or a blue kitchen set, it’s wrong to think that is change. The pink items are clearly marketed to girls and the blue items marketed to boys. Toy companies should market their toys to the children, not to a gender.

Hasbro has taken a huge step this year by releasing a gender neutral Easy-Bake Oven in Black and Silver.  13-year-old McKenna Pope started the petition for gender neutral packaging when her 4-year-old brother wanted an Easy-Bake Oven, but she could only find the product in pink and purple, colors her brother wouldn’t want.

In the UK, Toys”R”Us has agreed to remove the gender labels in their stores, thanks to the group, Let Toys Be Toys. In Sweden, catalogs feature groups of children, boys and girls, playing with Barbies and Nerf guns.

Toy companies should stop shoving gender stereotypes down the throats of young children. Why not let kids choose what they want to play with, rather than limiting their minds to the confines of their gendered section?

I cannot find evidence of the U.S. taking any step toward gender equality in children’s toys. It’s the peoples job make things right. One way to help is to sign the petition on Change.org for Toys”R”Us to eliminate the gender inequality in their stores. Personally, I say let boys play with dolls and girls with Lincoln Logs, children should have the freedom to choose their own creative outlet for playtime.