By ABIGAIL RABITT, age 10
Many toy companies, retail stores and websites are creating and sorting toys by gender: a pink section for girls, filled with dolls and toys that have to do with artistic creativity, and a blue or black section for boys that has fighting and action toys.
Let Toys Be Toys is a campaign that asks different toy industries to stop making children think they have to play with toys based on their gender. Although some people think boys and girls are naturally different and therefore shouldn’t play with the same toys, others think that these differences are created by being treated differently by adults and society. Let Toys Be Toys argues that girls might want to be architects when they grow up, while some boys might want to take care of their children.
Elizabeth Sweet, a researcher of gendered toys, says, “When all of the marketing consistently [all the time] revolves around gender, it teaches our kids to look at the opposite sex as a different species.”
Some experts believe that gendered toys lead children to develop skills in limited areas and could be one reason only 11 percent of engineers are women—“boys’ toys” are more geared toward building and problem solving. One new toy, GoldieBlox, encourages girls’ interest in science and technology by inviting kids to follow a story and build mini contraptions to help the characters.
A parent in support of the Let Toys Be Toys campaign said, “My four-year-old daughter is now starting to get self-conscious walking into the ‘boys’ section to get her favorite things, and it’s heart-breaking to watch,” But maybe things are changing. A store in the United Kingdom called Boots sells toys and does not label them “boys” or “girls.” Instead, they put their toys in categories like age and toy type.