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Lego pledges product changes after gender survey

Erin Lyons, October 13, 2021 6:30PM Kids News

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Lego has pledged to remove gender stereotypes from its toy range after a global study unearthed unsettling findings, including that 71 per cent of boys feared being teased for playing with toys marketed at girls. media_cameraLego has pledged to remove gender stereotypes from its toy range after a global study unearthed unsettling findings, including that 71 per cent of boys feared being teased for playing with toys marketed at girls.

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Lego has vowed* to remove gender* stereotypes* from its toys, after a global study found that 71 per cent of boys fear being teased for playing with toys marketed at girls.

The Danish toy giant said its products were mainly used by boys, but pledged to work to remove gender bias* from its products and instead market the range at both genders.

A study by Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, commissioned by Lego, included a survey of thousands of children aged between six and 14 from several different countries.

It found parents were more likely to encourage their sons to take part in STEM* activities, while daughters were often motivated to dance, play dress ups or bake.

Lego Land Pics. media_cameraLiam and Elky both love building with Lego. Picture: Tony Gough

Experts were also concerned about how gender bias had made its way into the toy market and that girls were encouraged to play with toys marketed at boys, but not the other way around.

This imbalance meant boys were missing out on developing key skills such as nurturing. Boys were also less confident about engaging in a wider range of activities, the study found.

LEGO's groundbreaking brick made from recycled plastic

Girls meanwhile felt less restrained* by and were less supportive of typical gender biases than boys when it came to creative play.

For instance, the survey found that 74 per cent of boys, compared to 62 per cent of girls, believe some activities are just meant for girls and others are meant for boys.

And 82 per cent of girls believe it is okay for girls to play football and boys to practice ballet, compared to only 71 per cent of boys.

Young family making cookies at home. media_cameraThe Lego survey found boys were less confident than girls about engaging in a wider range of activities, including some that have been historically treated as more “feminine” pastimes, like dancing and baking – two activities that have enjoyed a massive surge in popularity among families throughout the global Covid-19 lockdowns.

Parents were asked to complete an implicit* bias assessment and 76 per cent said they would encourage their sons to play with Lego but just 24 per cent would encourage their daughters to do the same.

Parents were also far more likely to think of men as engineers (89 per cent) compared to thinking of women in the same role (11 per cent).

Unley High Female Work Force media_cameraThe $32.5 million expansion of Unley High School in SA is just one Australian project currently being led by an 80 per cent female team – but only 11 per cent of parents in the international Lego survey said they think of women as engineers. Picture: Keryn Steven

Lego said it considered itself an inclusive* toy brand but still believed itself to be more relevant* to boys than girls.

The company no longer labels its products as “for girls” or “for boys” on its website. Consumers can instead search by interests.

“The benefits of creative play such as building confidence, creativity and communication skills are felt by all children and yet we still experience age-old stereotypes that label activities as only being suitable for one specific gender,” said Lego CMO Julia Goldin.

Lego said it was committed to making its toys more inclusive and ensuring children were not limited by gender stereotypes.

Photo media_cameraLego has committed to making gender stereotypes a thing of the past in its product range.

“We know we have a role to play in putting this right, and this campaign is one of several initiatives we are putting in place to raise awareness of the issue and ensure we make Lego play as inclusive as possible,” Ms Goldin said.

“All children should be able to reach their true creative potential.”

GLOSSARY

  • vowed: promised, pledged
  • gender: either of the two biological sexes, male and female, and can also refer to a range of identities and characteristics including masculinity and femininity
  • stereotypes: generalised beliefs and ideas about people that may be untrue or limiting
  • bias: unfairly supporting or opposing a particular person, belief or thing
  • STEM: science, technology, engineering and maths
  • restrained: held back, subdued, controlled, restricted
  • implicit: implied, indirect, suggested
  • inclusive: open to everyone, not limited to a certain group of people
  • relevant: connected, appropriate, of some degree of interest or importance

EXTRA READING

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Girls do better without boys

Kids give gender stereotypes the boot

Lego whiz builds mini hometown

QUICK QUIZ

  1. What percentage of boys feared being teased for playing with toys marketed at girls?
  2. What was the age range of children who took part in the study?
  3. What percentage of girls in the survey believe some activities are just meant for them?
  4. What percentage of boys think it is okay for girls to play football and boys to practice ballet?
  5. What percentage of parents think of women as engineers?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. A new logo for Lego
Design a new logo for Lego. The purpose of your logo is to show that Lego is great for girls and boys.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Visual Communication Design

2. Extension
Imagine that one of your friends, who is a boy, has told you that he would love to learn how to knit. He tells you that he won’t because he’s worried about what other kids might say about him doing a craft that they think “is for girls”. What would you tell your friend to convince him to go ahead and learn how to knit?

Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Personal and Social Capability

VCOP ACTIVITY
Read with Kung Fu punctuation
Pair up with the article between you and stand up to make it easy to demonstrate your Kung Fu Punctuation.

Practise reading one sentence at a time. Now read it again, while acting out the punctuation as you read.

Read and act three sentences before swapping with your partner. Have two turns each.

Now as a challenge, ask your partner to read a sentence out loud while you try and act out the punctuation. Can you keep up?

Swap over. Try acting out two sentences. Are you laughing yet?

Have fun acting out your punctuation.

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