For years, toy manufacturers have been padding their bottom lines with gender-specific play things, from action figures and race cars to princess gowns and kitchen sets. But now, UK politicians and activists hope to put an end to the pink-and-blue divide.
Toy manufacturers and toy shops have met with the UK’s women’s minister Jenny Willott who encouraged the brands and shops to sell more toys to girls that don’t rely on pink and princesses, and instead focus on branding chemistry and building sets for girls.
The push by Willott is in reaction to less girls showing interest in STEM topics and related careers like engineering and science, which have long been dominated by males.
“Today was an important first step in looking at how well-made, well-marketed toys can encourage girls to take an interest in science and engineering— traditionally male-dominated territory,” said Willott, according to the Daily Mail. “Today we agreed to work together to look at customers’ attitudes to toys and the choices they make in buying them.”
In recent months, toy manufacturers and sellers have been criticized for labeling toys by gender, the Daily Mail notes, with such things as a science kit being marked for boys while a miniature broom and dustpan are labeled “girls’ stuff.”
Lego, which received a lot of backlash for its Lego Friends for Girls toys, is answering the call by releasing “a series of female scientists and their lab tools after a pioneering proposal was selected as the latest Lego Ideas winner,” according to the Mail.
Proposed by Stockholm-based geochemist and avid Lego builder Dr. Ellen Kooijman, the series will include a female astronomer with a telescope, female paleontologist with a dinosaur skeleton and female chemist in a lab. The tagline for the sets will be “Explore the World and Beyond”—and there will be absolutely no pink.
Beyond the toy market, other brands like P&G’s Always is working to challenge societal norms associated with women. The brand’s latest campaign, “Like a Girl” asks when the common phrase became an insult.