The study, conducted at the request of Lego with 7,000 children from 14 countries, shows that girls gained confidence by playing with boys’ toys, but the reverse was not the case. 71 percent of the boys surveyed said they feared being ridiculed for playing with “girls’ toys,” a fear shared by their parents.
“Behaviours associated with men are held in high esteem by our society,” said Madeleine de Nonno, executive director of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in the Media, which conducted the study. “Until we realize that behaviors and activities typically associated with women are of equal value or importance, parents and children will continue to be reluctant to adopt that behavior.”
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The study found that fathers are still more likely to encourage their sons to engage in sports or hard sciences, while girls are more likely to be pushed toward dancing, dressing (up to five times more) or cooking (up to three times more). “These ideas show how ingrained gender biases still exist around the world,” said Gina Davis, a former Hollywood star but nowadays gender activist.
And that’s why Lego stepped in: the company says it wants to “remove prejudice and harmful stereotypes” from its collection, and will from now on promote its toys for both genders. Among others, by dropping the label “boys” and “girls”, but also by integrating skills such as care and spatial skills in all groups.