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LEGO Is Taking Leadership Position On Gender Neutral Toys… Or Something

LEGO is “Ready for Girls” … at least according to its latest marketing campaign.

That is good, of course, girls should be playing with any toy that they want. It is also weird, in my opinion, that LEGO felt the need to fund a study that seems like common sense, and then take a stance that they think it is good for girls to play with the blocks.

Maybe I am making too much of this, but it just seems like a company shouting, “HEY, look at us!!” — and I suppose that since I am writing about it, it worked. I looked.

I enter this with my theory: It wasn’t that long ago that my parents were buying me toys, and I’ll say that they were not worried about “enforcing gender roles” as much as they were worried about rewarding me for not being a total fvcking embarrassment at the store. So, if I picked a new XBox game, or LEGO set, or football, or (I suppose) a Barbie, they would buy me what I wanted…

So, lets see what LEGO has to say about this.

According to the company: New research commissioned by the LEGO Group reveals that girls today feel increasingly confident to engage in all types of play and creative activities, but remain held back by society’s ingrained gender stereotypes as they grow older. The study was carried out by the Geena Davis Institute in recognition of the UN’s International Day of the Girl and to mark the launch of a new LEGO® campaign, ‘Ready for Girls’, which celebrates girls who rebuild the world through creative problem solving.

The research, which surveyed nearly 7,000 parents and children aged 6-14 years old in China, Czech Republic, Japan, Poland, Russia, UK and USA highlights the need for society to rebuild perceptions, actions and words to support the creative empowerment of all children.

So, reading that back.. girls are increasingly confident — awesome! — but society holds them back? What? Because gender stereotypes? Huh?

The data they post doesn’t really state that at all.

* Girls feel less restrained by and are less supportive of typical gender biases than boys when it comes to creative play (74% of boys vs. 62% of girls believe that some activities are just meant for girls, while others are meant for boys)…. so, the girls feel good about doing whatever they want…

* 82% of girls believe it’s OK for girls to play football and boys to practice ballet, compared to only 71% of boys. …. so, again, girls are feeling good about doing whatever they want…

Also… it is pretty nice that the majority of these kids believed those things. That was somewhat of a surprise, in all honesty.

Where the twist comes in for me is further down their study… when it becomes clear that this is about money coming in to the company and not gender roles.

Ready for it:

* 59% of parents saying they encourage their sons to build with LEGO bricks compared to 48% who say they encourage it with their daughters. 

AND….

* 76% (of parents) said they would encourage LEGO play to a son vs. 24% who would recommend it to a daughter.

Soooo, what really is happening here is that LEGO learned that parents tend to buy LEGO products for their son but not their daughter.

Perhaps parents are just buying their son’s and daughter’s what they want to play with?

I go back to my initial theory here: if my parent asked me what toy I wanted, I picked that toy. Regardless of what it was. Neither my mom nor my dad were ‘recommending’ me a toy — LEGO or otherwise — and this all feels like it is trying to guilt parents into buying more LEGO’s.

As a capitalist, I respect the hustle. Sell more LEGO sets, LEGO.
As a realist, I do not like trying to shame people into it with the guise of inherent sexism.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

What do you think?

Written by Malcolm Henry

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