LEGO Plans to Remove Gender Bias From Its Toy Line
LEGO is taking steps to remove any gender bias from its popular line of toys.
Forbes notes that the company will no longer label toys as being "for girls" or "for boys" on its website. Instead, products will cater to specific "passions and interests."
“The company will ensure any child, regardless of gender identity, feels they can build anything they like,” LEGO said in a statement shared with NBC.
Julia Goldin, the chief product and marketing officer at LEGO, expressed their latest goal for the company in an interview with The Guardian. “Our job now is to encourage boys and girls who want to play with sets that may have traditionally been seen as ‘not for them’”
The move comes after the toy company Hasbro stopped gendering its popular Potato Head toy, which was previously marketed as Mr. Potato Head.
Explaining the decision, LEGO cited new research into the effect gender stereotyping has on girls and their perception of play and future careers.
The study, which LEGO commissioned for the United Nations' International Day of the Girl, was conducted by the Geena Davis Institute. Nearly 7,000 parents and children between the ages of 6 and 14 from across the globe were surveyed.
Results published on LEGO's website revealed that girls were "increasingly confident to engage in all types of play and creative activities, but remain held back by society’s ingrained gender stereotypes as they grow older."
According to the research, 74 percent of boys believe that certain actives are meant to be for a specific gender or the other. Only 62 percent of girls shared a similar belief. Parents were also more likely to recommend certain activities to girls — such as playing dress up and dancing — and boys — such as sports and program games.
The research noted that boys are more likely to worry about being teased for playing with toys that are typically coded as for girls. Seventy-one percent of boys expressed this fear, whereas only 42 percent of girls shared a similar worry about toys that are stereotypically targeted at boys.
Parents seemingly feel the same, according to Madeline Di Nonno, chief executive of the Green Davis Institute on Gender in Media.
"Parents are more worried that their sons will be teased than their daughters for playing with toys associated with the other gender," she told The Guardian.
“But it’s also that behaviors associated with men are valued more highly in society,” she added. "Until societies recognize that behaviors and activities typically associated with women are as valuable or important, parents and children will be tentative to embrace them.”
LEGOs were also viewed more often as a toy for boys than girls in the research.
Professor Gina Rippon, a neurobiologist and author of The Gendered Brain, told the publication that this "asymmetry" in play can impact children. "If girls aren’t playing with LEGO or other construction toys, they aren’t developing the spatial skills that will help them in later life," Rippon explained. "If dolls are being pushed on girls but not boys, then boys are missing out on nurturing skills.”
The Financial Times reported that LEGO, which is the largest toy company in the world, experienced growth in sales and profits during the first half of 2021. Their net profit was 10 times higher than their closest competitor, Hasbro.
NBC notes that people believe the company may be able to bring about larger changes in how toys are marketed since they've been so successful.