Re: Re[2]- Toys and gender

Mary Berle-Carman (Mary_Berle-Carman@TERC.EDU)
24 Oct 1996 10:14:06 U

Reply to: RE>Re[2]: Toys and gender (More)

Dear Joe,
Thanks for your response to my post. I admit I am naive with regard to how
Lego thinks about their market. I'd like to believe that ultimately
enlightened self-interest and gender equity are one, but the argument for
this is pretty complex, particularly when tomorrow's sales may be the bottom
line. I absolutely agree that regardless of what the corporate mentality is
that direct PRESSURE from consumers is the answer.
Mary Berle

Date: 10/23/96 6:57 PM
To: Mary Berle-Carman
Dear Mary:

I think it's unrealistic to assume that Lego doesn't know their own market,
I can well believe that many boys won't want (and won't ask their parents to
buy) a Lego set that has a picture of a girl on it. There IS a substantial
advantage to companies in perpetuating gender and other stereotypes, because
these stereotypes are influencing consumers' decisions about what to
and it's much easier for manufacturers to conform to these stereotypes than
challenge them.

I don't want to sound like a complete pessimist on this issue, nor do I
that manufacturers have an evil intent in this; they're just trying to make
money with the least amount of hassle and work. However, I think we delude
ourselves if we believe that all it takes to change these stereotypes is to
corporations "wake up" and realize that their enlightened self interest and
gender equity are one. What it also takes, I believe, is to put PRESSURE on
corporations, so that it's more work, hassle, and bad publicity for them to
perpetuate the stereotypes than it is for them to change. (Such as the
over "Chinese cherry" and "Injun orange" powdered drink flavors some years

I like your suggestion about putting pressure on the stores, but they too are
responding to consumer expectations that incorporate gender stereotypes.
Appealing to self-interest is fine when it's consistent with equity, but we
need to work to change the system of incentives so that it's no longer in
manufacturers' and retailers' self-interest to perpetuate gender stereotypes.

Joe Maxwell
WEEA Equity Resource Center
Education Development Center
Newton MA
Subject: Re: Toys and gender (More)
From: at Internet
Date: 10/23/96 10:13 AM

Reply to: RE>>Toys and gender (More)

Maybe we need to propose to Lego that marketing regular and pastel legos to
both girls and boys will be the most effective way to expand their market
share. Realistically, what advantage could there be to perpetuating outdated
cultural stereotypes? Every child and parent, regardless of gender, could be
supported in choosing to build rocket ships, the beach set, or both
regardless of the color of the set. I can't imagine a parent of a boy NOT
choosing to buy the rocket ship set because there is a picture of a girl on
the package. Yet some parents of girls might be encouraged. Wake up Lego!
Does anybody have ideas about how to address the marketing issue at the store
level? As long as every major department store thinks about toys in terms of
the lavender /pink aisle for girls and the war toys and blocks etc in primary
colors for boys the perpetuation of an outdated cultural narrative with
respect to gender will persist - and the Lego Companys of the world will be
able to rationalize color coding schemes that are ultimately not in their or
their customers best interests.
Is this a topic for the group TAG - Taking Action for Girls - that was
introduced earlier on this newsgroup? Anybody still have their address?
Mary Berle
Cambridge, MA

new message to this message