All posts in Perspectives

Raising children without gender stereotypes

By Dr Finn Mackay, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of the West of England

You can now download, display and consult your very own guide to raising children without gender stereotypes, all in an A3 poster! The 20 tips introduced on the poster are a summary of a much longer article and they will hopefully be useful, practical, informative and probably provocative, for parents and educators alike. The tips are only a beginning, and they are intended to start reflection and discussion: everyone could probably add their own to the list.

What?

Firstly, let’s start at the beginning, what sort of stereotypes are we talking about? Anyone with children in their lives, perhaps especially young children, cannot have failed to notice gender stereotyping: in children’s clothes; in children’s toys; in leisure activities aimed at children; in children’s programmes on TV… basically, everywhere. Read more…

Why no stories for rebel children? Don’t divide young readers by gender

By Tricia Lowther, originally published in the Guardian.

Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls, and its more recent male equivalent Stories for Boys Who Dare to Be Different, are among a clutch of bestselling children’s books that supposedly break down gender stereotypes. By sharing tales of inspirational women and men who succeeded against the prevailing stereotypes of their time, these books aim to challenge ideas about what it means to be a boy or a girl. But could they actually be reinforcing the problem? Read more…

shelf of children's picture books

Constructing bias – the wonky world of picture books

New research released this week by the Observer newspaper shows how picture books present children a worryingly lopsided view of the world: with males outnumbering females 2:1 among significant speaking characters, and male villains in 89% of books with ‘baddies’. Jess Day takes a look at the results.

The Observer’s research looked at 2017’s 100 top selling picture books: non-human characters (animals and monsters) were nearly twice as likely to be male, while you were twenty times more likely to come across an all-male book, than an all-female book.

Read more…

Being ManKind: men and boys in the 21st century

Being ManKind wants to reach children and young adults with positive male role models, using their books, lesson plans and workshops. Editor Joe Byrde tells Let Toys Be Toys about their plans and their new kickstarter campaign.

When Dave Chawner, a stand-up comedian, summoned the courage to go to his GP suffering from depression, he never expected to be diagnosed with clinical anorexia.

When Jack Morris left a promising career in the police to stay at home while his wife went out to work, his friends found it difficult to understand such an arrangement. Read more…

Changing our stories to #redrawthebalance

Katrina Encanto is part of the team behind the campaign about gender stereotypes and childhood role models, #redrawthebalance. In this guest blog post she looks at gender bias in media and why lack of representation for women and girls matters.

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David as Santa

Santa’s end of year review

David Kinnaird has been a professional Santa in Scotland for over 20 years. Here he reflects on how children’s toy choices have been changing in the last few years.

I’ve spent two decades ‘Behind the Beard’ – performing as and training Santas for sites around the UK. One of the first things I seek to instil in those entering the National Elf Service is that there is one question they simply Do Not Ask of the tiny travellers passing through their grottoes.

“What do you want for Christmas?”

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Elsa doll and Baymax toy

Setting the children free: parenting without stereotypes

When Rebecca Asher was researching her book Man Up, she found one message consistently came through loud and clear: the commonalities between boys and girls far outweigh the differences. She outlines for Let Toys Be Toys how the way we raise children and the gender stereotypes we bring to our parenting create and magnify any differences between the sexes.

rebecca-asher

I have never put much store by parenting manuals. Eight years into my career as a parent, I have turned to them on only a handful of occasions. Yet at the same time I have always been baffled by folksy advice to ‘rely on my maternal instinct’. I am not convinced that I have that instinct – maternal, parental, call it what you will. I love my children but I don’t believe that this love translates into always knowing exactly how best to meet their needs. Read more…

Book review: Man Up, by Rebecca Asher

Rebecca Asher has charted the one-dimensional view of boys and men throughout their lives, from ‘boys are like dogs’ to teenage troublemakers to non-communicative breadwinner and on to isolated older men in her latest book, Man Up: Boys, Men and Breaking the Male Rules. 

Read more…

Woman standing in front of screen with writing White House Conference on gender in children's toys and media

The White House takes aim at stereotypes in children’s media & toys

The recent White House conference examining the issue of gender in children’s media and toys shows how the issue is being taken seriously. Sociologist Dr Elizabeth Sweet, who presented her research at the event, shares her perspective on the day.

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18 female scientists tell us about their favourite childhood toys

Every child is a scientist… but what encourages them to make a career of it? To celebrate International Women’s Day, science writer Laurie Winkless talked to other women working in science and engineering to see the role their childhood played in their career choices.

Read more…