Things That Matter

Lego Says It’s Getting Rid Of Gender Bias In Their Marketing, Says Gender Stereotypes Are Harming Kids

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Chances are, as a kid, you grew up being encouraged to play with certain toys depending on your gender. If you were a girl, you parents gave you Barbies and an Easy Bake Oven. If you were a boy, you were given Tonka Trucks and Legos. Well, slowly but surely, society is changing their attitudes towards gender identity, and toy businesses want to reflect that change.

On Monday, Lego announced that it will no longer include gender bias in their products or marketing.

“The benefits of creative play such as building confidence, creativity and communication skills are felt by all children and yet we still experience age-old stereotypes that label activities as only being suitable for one specific gender,” Julia Goldin, Lego’s chief marketing officer, said in a statement, adding, “At the LEGO Group we know we have a role to play in putting this right.”

Lego’s decision to go gender neutral came after an extensive survey they commissioned from the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. The survey was created to investigate how the ubiquity of traditional gender roles influences parents’ and children’s approach to play.

The survey was sent to 7,000 people–children from 6 to 14-years-old and their parents–across a wide range of countries and cultures, including the U.S., the U.K. and China.

The survey revealed that, despite the strides we’ve made towards gender equality in recent years, children are still deeply affected by implicit biases they learn from society. The survey found that 71% of boys avoid playing with what have traditionally been called “girls’ toys” because they worry about being made fun of.

And it’s not just children who base their playing decision off of stereotypes. 76% of parents say they would encourage their sons to play with Legos while on 24% said they would encourage their daughters to do so. “Parents are more worried that their sons will be teased than their daughters for playing with toys associated with the other gender,” said Madeline Di Nonno, the CEO of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media to The Guardian.

Interestingly enough, California just issued a law requiring stores to have gender-neutral toy sections starting in 2024.

Experts say that separating toys by gender limits children’s creativity, learning, and interests. “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,” said neurobiologist Gina Rippon, author of “The Gendered Brain”, to The Guardian. “If dolls are being pushed on girls but not boys, then boys are missing out on nurturing skills.”

For years now, Lego has been taking baby steps towards gender neutral marketing. Consumers can no longer search toys by gender on their website and they don’t label their products with “for girls” or “for boys”. But now, their next goal is to start getting more girls to play with Legos in their new campaign called “Ready For Girls”. “Our job now is to encourage boys and girls who want to play with sets that may have traditionally been seen as ‘not for them’,” said Goldin.

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