LEGO says it is working “hard” to make its games more inclusive. The reason is the results of a global study on those stereotypes, the Danish toy manufacturer reports.
This research shows that attitudes towards play and future occupations are unequal and restricted among gender stereotyped games. The Danish toy maker announced the results on Monday on the United Nations’ International Day of the Girl.
Girls gain confidence and desire to participate in a variety of activities by playing with boys’ toys. But the opposite is not the case, according to a survey of nearly 7,000 parents and children ages 6 to 14 from China, the Czech Republic, Japan, Poland, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
71 percent of the boys surveyed feared being ridiculed if they played “girls’ toys,” a fear shared by their parents. “They are more concerned that their sons will be harassed by their daughters for playing with heterosexual toys,” said Executive Director Madeleine De Nonno of the Geena Davis Institute for Gender in the media that conducted the study.
She says the behaviors associated with men are also held in higher esteem in society. “Until societies realize that behaviors and activities normally associated with women are of equal value or importance, parents and children will be keen to adopt them,” de Nonno said.
The study also found that fathers continued to encourage sons to participate in sports or activities involving science, mathematics, engineering or technology that are in high demand in some professions, while girls were offered activities such as dancing and getting dressed (girls were encouraged five times more often). For these activities of boys) or baking (three times more likely to be encouraged).
“These insights highlight how deep gender biases run around the world,” said Academy Award-winning actress and activist Geena Davis, who founded the institute that bears her name in 2004 to combat negative gender stereotyping and promote inclusion.
“There is a disproportion,” says neurobiologist Gina Rippon, author of The Gendered Brain. “We encourage girls to play with boy things, but not the other way around.” It’s a problem, she says, because the games provide “training opportunities.” “So if girls don’t play with Lego or other building toys, they won’t develop spatial skills that will help them later. If girls are encouraged to play with dolls but boys aren’t, then boys lack parenting skills.”
That’s why LEGO wants to make games more inclusive. We’re working hard on it,” said Julia Goldin, head of product and marketing for the LEGO Group, the world’s largest toy maker. “Traditionally, LEGO has been used more by boys, but products like LEGO Dots or LEGO City Animal Rescue Camp are specifically designed to appeal to both boys and girls. Our mission now is to encourage boys and girls to play with sets that have traditionally been considered ‘not for them,’” Goldin said.
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