Words: Steve Brown
More than half of parents believe product marketing reinforces gender stereotypes for children.
According to a new survey by gender equality charity, The Fawcett Society, they found that around 60 per cent of parents said that product marketing ‘reinforces gender stereotypes about what girls and boys can do’.
The study also found that 59 per cent believed that it’s more acceptable for a girl to be a ‘tomboy’ than it is for a boy to be ‘feminine’.
Around 69 per cent of men under 35s said that gender stereotyping was damaging to notions of what it means to be a man or a woman.
The new research was published by the charity as they launched a commission on Gender Stereotypes in Early Childhood to examine how to stop stereotyping children based on their gender.
Co-chair of the commission, Professor Becky Francis, said: “As my own research has shown, the marketing of toys has a significant role in reinforcing traditional gender stereotypes about what is ‘appropriate’ for girls and for boys, which will feed into children’s later choices about which subjects to study at school and which career paths to consider.
“We need to open up those choices for our children rather than narrowing them down.”
Sam Smethers, of Fawcett, added: “They are damaging for girls and boys, harming their self-esteem, segregating their career and life choices, conditioning their expectations.
“Evidence shows that there is no such thing as a female or male brain but retailers persist in creating and perpetuating gender differences just to sell products.”