Gender stereotyping in children’s toys

The Achilles Effect explores gender bias in the entertainment aimed at primary school boys, focusing on the dominant themes in children’s TV shows, toy advertising, movies, and books: gender stereotypes of both sexes, male dominance, negative portrayals of fathers, breaking of the mother/son bond, and the devaluing of femininity. It examines the gender messages sent by pop culture, provides strategies for countering these messages, and encourages discussion of a vitally important issue that is rarely talked about—the impact of gender stereotypes on boys.

via The Achilles Effect.


Pinkstinks is a campaign that targets the products, media and marketing that prescribe heavily stereotyped and limiting roles to young girls. We believe that all children – girls and boys – are affected by the ‘pinkification’ of girlhood. Our aim is to challenge and reverse this growing trend. We also promote media literacy, self-esteem, positive body image and female role models for kids.

via Pinkstinks.

I first heard about this issue because of fancy dress costumes. Doctor, scientist, astronaut are marketed to boys. Girls’ options… princess, fairy, ballerina, overwhelmingly. Pinkstinks campaigned successfully and got Sainsbury’s to remove the gender labelling. I just think it’s one of the areas where individuals can genuinely have the power to affect the values of wider society of the future. Girls, even small ones, must have the culturally validated right to want to be a scientist or astronaut if that is what they choose. It applies to boys too, in different ways, which is what the Achilles Effect website campaigns about.

As parents, we have the opportunity to encourage children to be whatever they can and to aspire to anything they dream to be, but mass marketing which perpetuates ridiculously out of date caricatures of gender makes it very difficult: which is why I keep trying to support the campaigns against reductive stereotyping.

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