Australian toy companies are being urged to go ‘gender-neutral’ in order to ‘prevent harmful stereotypes’.
According to Australian Catholic University’s Laura Scholes, gendered products can have a great effect on a child’s future and ideology.
The professor claimed that a study she conducted showed that girls are still deterred from pursuing careers within science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
In a chat with news.com.au, she said: “We asked them what they wanted to be when they grow up and why.
“The main finding was the occupations kids are aspiring to haven’t really changed in the last 20 years – boys are still wanting to be professional sportspeople, STEM-related jobs, police or military.
“Girls still want to be teachers, work with animals, the arts.”
Although it was clarified that nothing is wrong with wanting these types of jobs, Prof Scholes believes the results would have been different if childrens’ surroundings were ‘challenged’.
“These stereotypes aren’t being challenged and they’re happening before kids get to school,” the expert explained. “That’s why gender-neutral toys are so important, because once they get to school it’s too late.
“I think we can do more in Australia, which has a history of hyper-masculine boyhood where boys have to be boys and play sports, and girls are expected to (conform to traditional gender roles).
“Research shows girls are very image-conscious about forming an identity that’s acceptable; it happens at a very early age.”
Larger retailers, such as Toys ‘R Us and Target, are believed to have already adopted a gender-neutral way of promoting their items.
While California has also introduced a new law that requires toys stores to apply an ungendered way of selling a ‘reasonable selection’ of products.
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