KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 12 — Danish toy maker Lego has announced that it will work to remove gender stereotypes from its toys after a global survey commissioned by the company found attitudes to play and future careers remain unequal and restrictive.
Researchers found that while girls were becoming more confident and keen to engage in a wide range of activities, the same was not true of boys, The Guardian reported.
Seventy-one per cent of boys surveyed feared they would be made fun of if they played with what they described as “girls’ toys” — a fear shared by their parents.
“Parents are more worried that their sons will be teased than their daughters for playing with toys associated with the other gender,” Madeline Di Nonno, the chief executive of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, who conducted the research, said.
“But it’s also that behaviours associated with men are valued more highly in society,” said Di Nonno, adding that 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.
The study found that parents still encouraged sons to do sports or STEM activities, while daughters were offered dance and dressing up (girls were five times more likely to be encouraged in these activities than boys) or baking (three times more likely to be encouraged).
The toy maker had commissioned the report for the UN International Day of the Girl on Monday.
It surveyed almost 7,000 parents and children aged six to 14 from China, the Czech Republic, Japan, Poland, Russia, UK and the US.
“We’re working hard to make Lego more inclusive,” Julia Goldin, the chief product and marketing officer at the Lego Group, said.
“Traditionally, Lego has been accessed by more boys, but products like [arts and crafts line] Lego Dots or Lego City Wildlife Rescue Camp have been specifically designed to appeal to boys and girls,” said Goldin.
The Lego mandate is now to promote nurturing and caring as well as spatial awareness, creative reasoning and problem solving.
Goldin said Lego no longer labelled any of its products “for girls” or “for boys”.
On Lego.com consumers cannot search for products by gender.