Recent research showed that gender stereotyping is still prevalent within the pages of toy catalogues. 97% of the children shown with guns and war toys are boys; girls are 12 times as likely to be shown playing with baby-style dolls. This is incredibly harmful to both sexes, who find themselves pigeon-holed.
Giving kids toys different from those traditionally given to their sex helps open their minds and can encourage lifelong interests in areas they may not have considered before. Who knows, would giving more girls Lego help redress the lack of women in construction? Would steering boys away from guns reduce the 81% of perpetrators of violent crime who are male?
The links below include suggestions for craft sets equally suitable for boys, gender-neutral construction kits and other ideas which are hopefully different from the norm and can be enjoyed by boys and girls together. Although I’ve labelled some ‘for boys’ or ‘for girls’ in an effort to redress the usual stereotyping, all these gifts can, of course (because this is the point), be enjoyed by all.
So, when you’re buying for children, please try and think out of the box – and, definitely, avoid the catalogues…
For more inspiration, try:
brightminds.co.uk Started by a former science teacher, includes some original present ideas (although most of the craft options are strongly signposted for girls).
lettoysbetoys.org.uk Campaigning group with its own award given to stores that don’t segregate toys. Check out its list of recommended retailers.
letterboxlibrary.com Buy or browse a list of books which celebrate equality and diversity.
afteralice.co.uk Extensive and excellent selection of toys and gifts, ideal for inspiring girls but suitable for all.
genneu.co.uk Gender neutral kids’ store – especially strong on baby and toddler toys.
And check out Gender-Neutral gifts for grown-ups too!