Lego aiming to 'remove gender stereotypes from its toys'

Lego says it will remove gender bias from its toys after survey shows boys still fear they will be made fun of if they play with girls’ toys

  • The Danish firm says it will work to remove gender bias from its toys after report
  • Report found that boys feared being made fun of for using toys ‘aimed at girls’
  • Lego commissioned report from the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
  • Institute was founded by Oscar-winning US actor turned activist Geena Davis
  • Bosses at toymaker told the Guardian it aimed to make Lego ‘more inclusive’ 

Lego has vowed to remove gender stereotypes from its toys, after a survey revealed how boys fear they will be ‘made fun of’ if they play with toys marketed for girls.

The famous Danish firm, the world’s largest toymaker, says its products are primarily used by young boys.

But it says it will now work to remove gender bias from its toys and push towards products aimed at both genders.

Bosses of the plastic brick toy firm have heralded products like Lego Dots and Lego City Wildlife Rescue as the way forward.

They say the company, which built up sales to £4.95billion last year, was ‘working hard to make Lego more inclusive’.

It comes after a report by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media – set up by Oscar-winning US actor turned activist Geena Davis – found that seventy-one per cent of boys surveyed feared they would be made fun of if they played with what they described as ‘girls’ toys’.

Lego has vowed to remove gender stereotypes from its toys, after a survey revealed how boys fear they will be ‘made fun’ of if they play with toys marketed for girls. Pictured: A Lego digger

Bosses of the plastic brick toy firm have heralded products like Lego Dots (pictured) and Lego City Wildlife Rescue as the way forward

Bosses say the company, which built sales up to £4.95 billion last year, was ‘working hard to make Lego more inclusive’

Commissioned by Lego, the report involved a survey of almost 7,000 parents and children aged six to 14 from China, the Czech Republic, Japan, Poland, Russia, UK and the US.

It found parents were likely to encourage their sons to take part in sports or Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths (STEM) activities, while daughters were more often offered to dress up, dance or bake.

But other experts suggest that while girls are now being pushed to do more ‘boy’ activities, boys were not being encouraged as much to take part in ‘girl’ activities.

They say that, as a result, girls were developing more rounded skills, but boys were missing out on skills such as nurturing. 

It comes after a report by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media – set up by Oscar-winning US actor turned activist Geena Davis (pictured) – found that seventy-one per cent of boys surveyed feared they would be made fun of if they played with what they described as ‘girls’ toys’

Meanwhile, researchers at the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, found that while girls were becoming more confident and keen to engage in a wide range of activities, the same was not true of boys.

Madeline Di Nonno, the chief executive of the institute told the Guardian: ‘Parents are more worried that their sons will be teased than their daughters for playing with toys associated with the other gender.

‘But it’s also that behaviours associated with men are valued more highly in society.

‘Until societies recognise that behaviours and activities typically associated with women are as valuable or important, parents and children will be tentative to embrace them.’

Addressing the results of the report, Julia Goldin, the chief product and marketing officer at the Lego Group, told the Guardian: ‘We’re working hard to make Lego more inclusive.

‘Traditionally, Lego has been accessed by more boys, but products like [arts and crafts line] Lego Dots or Lego City Wildlife Rescue Camp have been specifically designed to appeal to boys and girls.

She said Lego, which was founded in 1932 by carpenter Ole Kirk Christiansen and has grown to become the world’s largest toymaker, no longer labelled any of its products ‘for girls’ or ‘for boys’.

Alongside sets aimed at boys the toymaker has sets marketed towards girls, such as its Lego Friends kits. 

She also told the Guardian that the firm was now aiming to encourage boys and girls ‘who want to play with sets that may have traditionally been seen as “not for them”.’ 

It comes after Lego launched a rainbow-themed LGBTQ+ set in May called ‘Everyone Is Awesome’ with no gender assigned to all but one of the figures.

Pale blue, white and pink represent the transgender community, while black and brown stand for the different skin colours across the LGBTQ+ community.

Pale blue, white and pink represent the transgender community, while black and brown stand for the different skin colours across the LGBTQ+ community

The purple figure is the only one which has a specific gender and – with a beehive wig – represents ‘the fabulous drag queens out there,’ according to the designer, Matthew Ashton.

Ashton, Vice President of Design at the Danish toymaker, originally created the set for his own desk but it soon attracted the attention of colleagues.

‘Other members of Lego’s LGBTQ+ community came by to tell me they loved it,’ Ashton told The Guardian. ‘So I thought, “maybe it’s something we should share.”‘ 

Ashton, who was executive producer for the 2014 Lego Movie, said that he had struggled with being LGBTQ+ during his childhood.

‘Trying to be someone I wasn’t was exhausting. I wish, as a kid, I had looked at the world and thought: “This is going to be OK, there’s a place for me.” I wish I’d seen an inclusive statement that said “everyone is awesome,”‘ Ashton said.

Lego’s move follows a decision by Hasbro to make Mr. Potato Head gender neutral. 

The company announced in February how it is changing the branding of the 70-year-old figure because it needs to break free from gender norms.

The change – which will drop the ‘Mr.’ from Mr. Potato Head brand -sparked debate on social media, with many saying toy company Hasbro had bent to ‘woke’ culture by changing a cultural icon that’s been on toy shelves since 1952.

But Rhode Island-based Hasbro, which revealed the change in a presentation to investors in February, said the gender-neutral name comes as societal roles are changing – with more single-parent households and same-sex parents coming into the picture.

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