Lego yanks ‘gender bias and harmful stereotypes’ from its toys

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Lego yanks 'gender bias and harmful stereotypes' from its toys

Lego on Monday vowed to rid its toys of “gender bias and harmful stereotypes” in a push to make them more accessible to girls.

The world’s largest toymaker has already stopped labeling its products as “for girls” or “for boys” and its website does not allow searches by gender, The Guardian noted.

Recent product lines have also “been specifically designed to appeal to boys and girls,” the company’s chief product and marketing officer, Julia Goldin, told the UK paper.

“We’re testing everything on boys and girls, and including more female role models,” said Goldin.

“Our job now is to encourage boys and girls who want to play with sets that may have traditionally been seen as ‘not for them,’” Goldin added.

“We’re working hard to make Lego more inclusive,” Goldin said.

Lego announced the push Monday to coincide with what the UN declared as “International Day of The Girl.”

It also followed auditing by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media to “address gender bias and harmful stereotypes” which found that 76 percent of parents encourage Lego play for boys compared to just 24 percent for girls.

That research showed that girls were more likely than boys to want to engage in a wide range of play and activities, with 71 percent of boys worried they’d be made fun of if they played with so-called “girls’ toys.”

Children play with Lego pieces in the exhibition of Lego creations in a shopping mall in Qingdao, China.
Lego products can no longer be searched by male and female gender on its website.
Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Parents are also “more worried that their sons will be teased than their daughters for playing with toys associated with the other gender,” Madeline Di Nonno, the chief executive of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, told The Guardian.

They are almost six times as likely to think of scientists and athletes as men than women — with 85 percent compared to 15 percent — and over eight times as likely to think of engineers as men than women, with 89 percent versus just 11 percent.

Parents still encourage daughters to take up dance, baking and dress-up, while boys are more likely to be pushed into sports and activities involving science, technology, engineering and math, the research showed.

“These insights emphasize just how ingrained gender biases are across the globe,” Geena Davis, the Oscar-winning actor who set up the institute in 2004, told The Guardian.

The actress, a mom of three, said she was “heartened” by Lego’s “commitment to this study to inform how we can dramatically inspire creativity in girls through play and storytelling.”

“We also know that showing girls unique and unstereotyped activities can lead to an expanded viewpoint of possibilities and opportunities,” she said.

The study was based on a survey of nearly 7,000 parents and children aged six to 14 from China, the Czech Republic, Japan, Poland, Russia, UK and the US.

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