Far too often, children’s toys are divided along gender lines — especially when it comes to toys for girls. If you walk into many toy stores today, you will see a clear separation of toys for girls and toys for boys: with girls’ toys largely come in shades of pink and purple, with a heavy emphasis on things like motherhood, homemaking and fashion/beauty. Even childhood mainstay Lego has gotten in on the gender division, with a special line of pink and purple legos for girls called “Lego Friends.” For an example of how much things have changed, check out the difference between a Lego ad from 1981 with a Lego ad from 2012:
While there is nothing wrong with a girl wanting pink toys or wanting to play house, there is a danger that dividing toys along gender lines limits children’s interests. If young girls are given the message that science, technology and construction toys are not for them — after all, they’re only found in the “boy” section of the store — it is unlikely that they will pursue careers in any of those fields. This is shown in the statistics — only 28% of employees in science and engineering fields are women. (For an awesome video on how girls are discouraged from careers in the sciences, click here).
But happily, in the age of online crowd funding, the tide is slowly turning. Last year, Goldie Blox was a smash hit, raising close to $300,000 on Kickstarter to produce its engineering toys designed specifically to appeal to girls. They even produced some of the year’s best commercials, including one that played to prime-time audiences at the Super Bowl. Their toys are now sold in stores across the country and online, increasing the possibility that more girls will develop a love for engineering and decide to pursue a career in that field. This year, I Am Elemental raised more than $150,000 on Kickstarter to build a line of female action figures based on historical figures, with more realistic bodies and super powers like bravery, honesty, persistence and enthusiasm. These toys are available for pre-order December 2014 — for the superhero fan in your life. Finally, Miss Possible has nearly reached its $75,000 goal on Indiegogo — they will be making a series of dolls based on famous women, such as Marie Curie, Bessie Coleman and Ada Lovelace. Their mission is to empower girls to “dream big and achieve” — and it looks like they might meet their goal.
So, for all of you who despair over the “pinkification” of girls’ toys — fear not! These new toys prove that we can innovate and find new ways to get the toys we want for our kids onto the market — and erase those artificial limits put on their hopes and dreams!
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