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Take the Gender Roles Out of Children’s Toys

Ran Zheng

It is no surprise that this world is full of sexism and inequality. What might surprise you, however, is how early gender roles are forced upon young children. If you walk into nearly any toy store, you will see a largely pink and purple section full of artsy toys and mini makeup kits, and another largely green and blue section full of toy cars and fake weapons. It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that gender roles are heavily enforced in children’s toys and books. Of course, these stereotypes are getting better, but as a society, we are still far from perfect. 

A study in 2015 by a volunteer program called Let Toys Be Toys showed the words most used in children TV ads
(Let Toys Be Toys)


A study conducted by BBC put baby boys in “girl” clothes and vice versa. They gave the children to volunteer adults to play with and said that the little girls were boys and that the little boys were girls. The children and volunteers were placed in a room with both “boy” toys and “girl” toys. The adults that were placed with “boys” went mainly for toys like robots, rockets, and horses, while the adults placed with “girls” went for toys like dolls and stuffed animals. The adults were later told about the experiment and many of them were shocked at their subconscious decisions. This experiment truly cements how much sexism is embedded into us from a young age. We don’t even realize most of it, but it is always there. 

Brain Development

The first thing that comes to mind when you think of gendered toys might not be brain development, but it is drastically affected by children’s toys. Many “girl” toys, especially ones made for babies, require substantially less brainpower to use than their “boy” equivalents. “Girl” toys consist of dolls and stuffed animals, while “boy” toys consist of trains, puzzles, and construction toys. These require the children to use their brains more than if they were just playing with a little doll. This can seriously impact the brain development of little girls and impact how they learn and play. 

There are many factors to consider when talking about gendered toys, and most of them are complex and multi-faceted. While sexism definitely isn’t a new societal construct it’s also not being improved upon as much as many would hope. In modern times, it is important to move forward thoughtfully and deliberately when considering the impact that gender stereotypes can have on us from a very young age. 

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About the Contributor
Eleanor T.
Eleanor T., Photography Editor
Eleanor T. is the Co-Photography Editor at The Lilith and a 7th grader at GALA. This is her first year on the staff here at the Literary Magazine. She loves reading, writing, and art (especially photography) and is super excited to be at The Lilith this year! Additionally, she's a staff writer for GALA's newspaper, The Echo.

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    MMar 8, 2024 at 10:41 am

    Great article, Eleanor!