Advanced search

Would anyone like to join in an effort to convince retailers to stop categorizing toys by gender?

(1000 Posts)
OneHandWavingFree Mon 19-Nov-12 00:06:37

Following on from this thread and similar ones, a few of us are interested in discussing ways to send a message to retailers that it is not acceptable to designate 'boys' and 'girls' toy aisles which reinforce the message that science and adventure are "boys stuff", while girls should be primarily occupied with looking 'sexy' or practicing for domestic drudgery.

The first steps might be to draft a letter and identify a few retailers to target for an email campaign. Other ideas of how to get the message across are very welcome too, though.

Would anyone like to join in?

Himalaya Tue 20-Nov-12 07:29:59

Apart from stumpy there seems to be fairly unanimous support for this campaign here. Can I resurrect Onehandwavingfree's practical list of things to do:

* Email campaign targeting main offenders (to be identified).
* Campaign via a Facebook group, either a new one with a specific action
plan, or an approach to an existing group with a similar concern, such as
PinkStinks, A Mighty Girl, and Toward the Stars.
* Online petition via
* Some kind of recognition of examples of better practice - i.e. shops and
websites that group toys by age and interest, not gender.
* See if MNHQ can use any influence to help?

- I would say don't make it part of "pink stinks" etc... (Although they could of course be supportive). It's a different campaign - aimed at retailers, and about girls and boys.

Could we start to make a list of targets:

John Lewis
The Entertainer
Tesco (?)
Argos (?)... Although they seem to do this less than they used to - have dropped "boys" and "girls" in favour of pink and blue pages hmm

Ones that don't:

Harrods (...after a campaign...)

StewieGriffinsMom Tue 20-Nov-12 07:35:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PeggyCarter Tue 20-Nov-12 07:44:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MummyPigsFatTummy Tue 20-Nov-12 09:15:42

Boots' catalogue is pretty bad . However I am not sure about their stores. Anyway they are possibly not an initial target given they are not specifically a toy shop. But maybe for later.

Kveta Tue 20-Nov-12 09:18:08

count me in too

devilinside Tue 20-Nov-12 09:43:51

This is just so depressing, I found far easier with toddlers tbh, ds and dd shared most of their toys, and with no outside influences, were happy to do so.

But now 7 year old DD is not in the least bit girly, and there is not a single toy for her, she's not into dolls, hates pink (as do most of the 'brighter' girls in her class). She likes Harry Potter and Star Wars but then questions why there are no female characters in the lego sets etc. She loves chemistry sets, but again, with no female characters on the boxes or in the adverts, she thinks they are just for boys (and I can see her point).

Please, if anyone sees a chemistry set (not about bloody perfume making, or make up) with a girl on the box, please link.

OneHandWavingFree Tue 20-Nov-12 10:10:14

Here in Ireland, Boots do have a "Boys Toys" aisle and a "Girls Toys" aisle. John Lewis seems like a good place to start, but for purely selfish reasons (my own location) I would really love if we also targeting a retailer with outlets in Ireland.

Debenhams is the one that makes my blood boil most often, because the segregation is so pronounced, and the signs are huuuuuuge.

I think that it would be good to go after a few chains at once - maybe if there's a little bit of publicity around it, there will be an incentive for one or the other to be the first to take our concerns on board? Is that wishful thinking?

devilinside Tue 20-Nov-12 10:22:08

Looking online I have found a few chemistry sets with girls on the box (seems online shopping is the way to go)

MummyPigsFatTummy Tue 20-Nov-12 10:27:37

How about one with noone on the box devilinside?

MummyPigsFatTummy Tue 20-Nov-12 10:28:08

Oh sorry, didn't read your last post first.

GrimmaTheNome Tue 20-Nov-12 12:34:09

>"equal rights are being taken too far here."
yes, that line got me too... how do you take equality too far?confused Its either equal or it ain't.

Thing is, some of us, like me and stumpy and our offspring didn't get harmed by genderisation, by some combination of age and familial attitude. But you only have to read one post like Goth's to realise that an 'I'm all right, Jill' attitude doesn't wash. Genderisation does affect children, its unecessary and in many cases would be easy to avoid. Websites could simply stop categorising by gender, remove the boy/girl search filters (or at least, if they really want them, make 'girl + science' return the whole gamut not just pink smellies)

Only4theOlympics Tue 20-Nov-12 13:10:52

I am in. Can we start with elc! Oh it drives me Barry. Esp as dd has a liking for dinosaurs and mike the knight!

Himalaya Tue 20-Nov-12 13:47:16

In Debenhams there are 12 science toys 'for boys', and 2 'for girls'


116 construction toys 'for boys' and and 9 'for girls'.


Most depressing of all is the girl's role play vs boys role play

They seem to go out of their way to be retrograde. This Construction Worker's set is modeled by a girl and a boy, but doesn't show up if you click 'for girls'.


MurderOfGoths Tue 20-Nov-12 13:51:44

Saw this yesterday, it's done with good intentions. But I'm still saddened that this is seen as a legitimate way to get girls into engineering, rather than just making engineering unisex.

HalloweenNameChange Tue 20-Nov-12 13:57:13

I'm creating GoldieBlox to inspire girls the way Legos and Erector sets have inspired boys, for over 100 years, to develop an early interest and skill set in engineering. It's time to motivate our girls to help build our future.

This is just inaccurate. It's only recently lego has decided girls weren't their target audience. Lego and erector sets are just totally unisex. You don't need a bear in a business suit or a dolphin in a tutu for a girl to liek construction. The actual link has "prettypicture" in the URL address

MurderOfGoths Tue 20-Nov-12 13:57:51

This video about attitudes towards what different genders are "allowed" is also interesting, it focuses on costumes specifically.

MurderOfGoths Tue 20-Nov-12 13:59:10

It's awful isn't it? Why is it that toys that are unisex seem to be seen as "boys toys".

Himalaya Tue 20-Nov-12 14:00:18

The prototype version with the cotton reels and bits of wood and screws looks much more fun than the plastic version, with everything all thought out for you. When I was a young girl I wouldn't have gone near the plastic version but I was always constructing things out of junk.

RubyrooUK Tue 20-Nov-12 14:00:31

I think it's important to remember when targeting retailers with a campaign like this that they generally have very few feelings on how toys are categorised; they simply want whatever sells best. If they thought a gender neutral layout would encourage people to buy more and give them more options to sell to consumers, they would do it immediately.

But it doesn't hurt retailers that if you have a boy and then a girl, this means they can sell you a whole different set of toys for the second child. Sometimes even the same ones but in different colours - blue and then pink. If you just have two boys (or two girls) the chances are that they may simply use their older siblings' toys instead. So there is a commercial advantage to gender segregation in retailing to some extent too which would need to be overcome.

Retailers do affect people's views with their marketing, so it is 100% right to get them onside with this campaign. But they also reflect society and the people who shop there. I meet various retailers mentioned on this thread through work. They tell me that there has been an enormous rise in demand for "pink and sparkly" from their customer research and they aim to meet this demand. (Don't shoot me, I'm just the messenger.) Given the commercial position I mentioned above, retailers are happy to provide anything that may sell to their customers.

So while changing marketing gendered toys may help stop people feeling that boys and girls need separate toys, it is a bit of a chicken and egg situation. There is also pressure on retailers from parents who do like gendered toys to continue this. My niece, as mentioned before, for example, only wears pink and has pink toys. Her mother actively said before birth that she wanted a girl rather than a boy and encourages the whole thing as she thinks it is fun, not at all sexist.

Er, not sure about the point of this post. I personally hate gender marketing as I detailed in my previous post. So I like the idea of a campaign; I just think it is a complex issue to deal with when so many people also enjoy gender separate marketing......

Only4theOlympics Tue 20-Nov-12 14:21:16

Dd does have some pink sparkles on toys and clothes etc. Why can't the pink and hour stuff be mixed in with the rest. Why does there have to be a wall of pink stuff wherever you go. Why do kitchens have to be in the girls aisle when every toddler boy I have ever known loves a toy kitchen?

And elc, pray tell why can I only find pink medical, nurses boxes in the girls section and plain white doctors kits in the boys section in your damn shop? Have you never met a male nurse or female doctor?

HalloweenNameChange Tue 20-Nov-12 14:29:01

I like that they fel the need (in case the pink and purple box didn't make it obvious) to write "girls only" on the front of the box

Miggsie Tue 20-Nov-12 14:56:37

Can I add that taking a totally gender neutral item such as a perpetual calendar and painting it either blue or pink is pointless - and if you don't like pink or blue - annoying.

GrimmaTheNome Tue 20-Nov-12 17:48:35

Ruby - no problem with retailers selling pink sparkly stuff.

Huge problem with a search for 'girl +science" turning up only pinkified kits.

Just imagine a well-meaning grandparent who knows their grandchild is into science or engineering. Trying to do a good job they tailor their search...'who is it for' on the debenhams site gives the girls a stunning choice of making fridge magnets or a Hello Kitty electronic keyboard. WTF???

GrimmaTheNome Tue 20-Nov-12 18:03:14

That GoldieBlox thing seems superfluous...if you want to get kids into engineering buy them K'nex. Apart from a pink 'little house on the prarie' they seem gloriously ungendered.

GrimmaTheNome Tue 20-Nov-12 18:12:31

Back to the OPs desire for campaigning... this seems like an area where whoever it is in government who is supposed to be encouraging kids into STEM subjects should be taking an active interest. Turning a proportion of girls off science and engineering is doing the country a great disservice.

This thread is not accepting new messages.