A friend recently posted a link to an article in the Daily Mail about gender sterotyping and the amount of pink toys. It sparked a bit of a debate as you can image. As I have both a boy and girls I think it can be easier to be more subjective, as my children are exposed to both gender toys. HOWEVER if you only had one child or multiple children of the same sex I can imagine there is a gap in toys.
When Moo was a baby we bought him a Fisher Price Little People aeroplane – its very gender neutral white and blue containing both male and female people 6 years on and its still played with daily. BUT I do know that this model is sold by Fisher Price in pink …. yes pink. Actually Fisher Price have a whole range of their most popular toys in pink. Pre-children I used to manage a Day Nursery and my background is in childcare and as much as I rack my brains I can't see what extra learning experiences may occur from a pink aeroplane. The fact here is that Fisher Price have cottoned onto a lucrative business. There are people who will by PINK toys because they have girls. (this isn't just subject to Fisher Price most children's manufacturers do it look at Lego!) For me when shopping for toys – price point will always be my deciding factor, I would NEVER pay extra because something was pink as opposed to unisex.
Because I do have both sexes we do have an abundance of trains, Lego, role play kitchens, dolls, prams, ninja turtles, princesses and army figures and possibly this makes my children lucky. Olive frequently builds structures from Duplo to put Cinderella and TMNT Leonardo in – Megan has been known to climb a tree dressed as an angel – Moo will play tea parties with his sisters for hours, but that's not to say they don't enjoy stereotypical gender play. Moo like nothing more than being Robin Hood with a bow and arrow fighting the “armies”. But they are lucky, lucky that they can experience a wide range of play.
I do FEEL though as a parent there is less social stigma for say Megan to be playing pirates, trains and Lego than it is for Charlie to be playing Sylvanian Families and Vet's (he wants to be a vet but I have found most of the sets appeal more in appearance to girls than boys).
I also strongly dislike the way that toy shops are separated into gender specific areas and one of my huge bug bears has to be “Boys Toys” which are science sets! No wonder L'Oreal has set up their Women In Science Scheme. Ideally I'd like to see toy shops and products made more gender neutral and appealing – less pink – girls don't NEED a pink train to play trains or pink Lego to enjoy . But I do think the biggest change needs to be how we as parents see toys. Toys are designed to enhance your child's learning experience, develop skills and have fun. All our learning from birth to 6years (even in schools) is achieved through the power of play so lets let our children play.
I'd love to hear your thoughts and views – are you a pink princess type of parent? Or do you mix it up?