Re: Toys and gender: Some other thoughts

Barbara J Tavares (
Fri, 25 Oct 1996 07:52:49 -1000

There is research on this, including how early children tend to segregate
their play choices along gender lines. About eight years ago I did a
slide presentation for teacher training that started when I couldn't find
a non-sexist birthday card for my five year old niece. I ended up
purchasing about 15 birthday cards that showed how the "boy cards"
(nephew, son, grandson, etc.) fell along very strict gender lines as did
the "girl cards." The later dealt mainly with appearance (To a Pretty
Five Year Old) and showed pictures in nurturing type activites--cooking,
caring for dolls, etc. The boy cards were very action oriented and showed
cowboys, astronauts, and several addressed what the boy wanted to "be" as
an adult. I never realized how early career education starts for boys,
but I learned then that it starts with birthday cards. My slide presentation
also included toy isles at stores, and as previous contributers have
pointed out, they definately segregate by gender. All the toy dishes
showed girls on the boxes. (Don't males need to eat?) and there were no
grooming toys--mirrors and combs, etc., marketed for males. There were
LOTS of such items for girls. I haven't looked at this in years, but I
also remember that I could find no personalized kitchen signs (placards,
fridge magnets, plates) that had male names. There were tons with Mary's
kitchen, Gertrude's kitchen, etc, but no males.

I'm sure others on this list have additional items to add. It would be
fun to revisit some of those issues to see what progress has been made
since 1988.

Barbara Tavares
University of Hawaii

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