Recently they have signed an agreement to remove gender stereotyping in their toys. The reason? The French government says that’s one of the main reasons why girls don’t pursue careers in math, sciences and other STEM fields.
It’s not the first time gender-specific toys have had this focus. For many the fact that such toys are often seen as “toys for boys” isn’t leading to anything good.
So, the French government, the French Federation of Toys and Childcare Industries, and the association of toy manufacturers signed the charter for “Balanced representation of gender in toys”.
“There are toys for girls that are generally very pink and generally very focused on domestic life, whereas toys for boys are generally themed around construction, space travel and science and technology,” French junior economy minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher said to RTL.
“If you go into a shop to buy a toy for your young niece or nephew, the first question is: ‘is it for a girl or a boy?’ And not’ do they like to play outside? Do they like to play construction games? Do they like to play at taking care of a baby?” Pannier-Runacher added.
This has the potential to become more widespread. The Dutch education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven also backed the initiative saying the toy industry should ‘examine carefully what they create, in an attempt to end gender-stereotyping.’
One of the first initiatives in this way happens to be Mattel’s new Creatable World line of dolls. They debuted the same week. “Toys are a reflection of culture and as the world continues to celebrate the positive impact of inclusivity, we felt it was time to create a doll line free of labels,” said Kim Culmone, senior vice president of Mattel Fashion Doll Design to ToyNews.
“Through research, we heard that kids don’t want their toys dictated by gender norms. This line allows all kids to express themselves freely which is why it resonates so strongly with them. We’re hopeful Creatable World will encourage people to think broadly about how kids can benefit from doll play.”
Would all of this actually make a difference? The companies think so. We’ve always thought that kids should be able to play with whatever toys they like and are interested in.