LEGO has vowed to remove gender biases from its marketing and toys, after research found that girls are being negatively impacted by gender stereotypes when it comes to life and play.
The LEGO group commissioned research by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media – that saw the institute survey 7,000 parents and children aged between 6-14 years old. The study was conducted worldwide, from China to The United States.
The research found that while girls feel less restrained by gender norms than boys, for instance, 82 per cent of girls believe it’s okay for girls to play football and boys to practice ballet. While in comparison, only 71 per cent of boys share that view. Similarly, 71 per cent of boys said they worry about being made fun of if they play with a toy typically associated with the other gender. In comparison, only 42 per cent of girls surveyed felt the same.
However, the survey found that parents were the ones enforcing traditional gender norms onto their daughters, for instance, the research found parents were almost five times more likely to encourage girls over boys to engage in dance, 81 per cent vs 19 per cent.
The research continually highlighted that while girls were usually comfortable playing in any space, their parents didn’t always encourage them to. For example, 59 per cent of parents surveyed said they would encourage their sons to build with LEGO bricks compared to 48 per cent who said they would encourage their daughters. Parents were also found to also be six times more likely to think of scientists and athletes as men than women, 85 per cent vs. 15 per cent.
These findings suggest that while girls believe they can do anything and play with anything – and are less likely to be hung up on gender. Often parents’ own gender biases lead their daughters towards traditionally ‘feminine’ roles and toys.
In reaction to these findings, LEGO has pledged to make LEGO play more inclusive. LEGO plans to work with UNICEF and Genna Davis Institute to ensure all marketing going forward is accessible and free of gender bias and stereotypes. For instance, the toymakers will not label their toys for girls or for boys. Instead, toys will be marketed towards any child, regardless of gender.
Julia Goldin, CMO LEGO Group, said: “The benefits of creative play such as building confidence, creativity and communication skills are felt by all children and yet we still experience age-old stereotypes that label activities as only being suitable for one specific gender.
“At the LEGO Group we know we have a role to play in putting this right, and this campaign is one of several initiatives we are putting in place to raise awareness of the issue and ensure we make LEGO play as inclusive as possible. All children should be able to reach their true creative potential.”
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