U.S. & World
U.S. & World

Companies Are Looking to Create Neutral Toys for Children

By on January 15, 2013

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island, USA – A campaign of a 13 years old girl will ensure that the company Hasbro will produce an Easy-Bake that it’s not pink or purple, so that will be acceptable to his brother, revives an old debate about stereotypes. However, the reality remains the same and every parent who wants their child not to be exposed to different things – a girl exploring science or a boy playing with dolls – was met with a toy industry that seems stuck in the past regarding the issue of genders.

Hasbro is not the only company that has been criticized.

One of the most popular toys last year, the “LEGO Friends Butterfly Beauty Shop”, was designed specifically for girls and ended up falling on wasted stereotypes by focusing on beauty salons presenting characters with curves and long eyelashes.

Industry experts say the industry reflects cultural norms and toy companies produce what sells. Many parents have no problem with the toys of their daughters being pink and for their sons they prefer the toys not to be associated with women, but to play with guns and trucks. Others, however, find it irritating that the industry makes such a clear distinction between the genders.

Neutral Toys

“There is a lot of pressure to fit gender stereotypes since the moment you become pregnant,” said Teresa Graham Brett, consultant issues higher education from Tucson, Arizona, and mother of two boys, ages 6 and 11 years.

Children begin to identify themselves as male or baby after three or four years, according to Sudan Linn, a psychologist at Harvard Medical School and co-founder of an organization called Campaign for Children Without Advertising.

“When a child is surrounded by rigid posts, like ‘this is what men do, this is what girls do’, limited their ability to achieve their full potential,” said Linn. “Girls do not prefer the pink color from birth, that is something that they are taught, and ends up getting what they want and what they need. There neurological differences between boys and girls at birth. Nevertheless, our aim should be to provide a variety of experiences that enable them to develop their own trends.”

Large toy stores and portals as digital toys separate different categories, including gender.
“The toy companies respond to what consumers want. Speak with mothers, organize discussion groups. Sensible do things,” said Adrienne Appell, spokeswoman for the Association of Toy Industry.

Chris Byrne, content director for, said that decides what is going to market homes.

“Toys are always going to reflect the prevailing culture,” he said.

This applies even for a toy that has attracted much attention for trying to combat gender stereotypes. GoldieBlox, about building a toy, is the brainchild of Debbie Sterling, whose aim was to interest girls in science and engineering. However, what bothered him was when he visited a toy store.

“I felt it was in the 50s,” he said. “The girls section was pink. He is teaching girls to be a housewife, a princess and a pop star.”

The men’s section, he said, seemed more dynamic, interesting things, “more intelligent and complex, with toys on math and science.”

The main character is GoldieBox Goldie, a woman engineer. It will be put on sale in April. In a concession to commercial realities, the toys have a good dose of pink.

“There are many parents close minded. They won’t buy the new toy if not clear that it is for girls,” said Sterling. “I do not want girls not to have a GoldieBox because it is clearly not aimed for them, at least at first.”

Some things are changing. The London department store Harrods recently redesigned its toy section, grouping products by theme rather than by gender. In addition, the Swedish firm Top-Toy published a catalog neutral, in which children are playing in a kitchen with a hair dryer and girls shooting toy guns.

Hasbro announced in late 2012 that took 18 months developing an Easy-Bake Oven baked with neutral colors, black and silver. They made the announcement after speaking with Pope McKenna, of Garfield, New Jersey, a 13-year-old put in a request to the network that the company fabricate attractive toys for all children, regardless of gender, which received thousands of firms. Hasbro says that both men and women will have fun with the Easy Bake oven.