Don't buy pink toys for girls, parents told

By Hannah Richardson
BBC News education and social affairs reporter

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Girl playing with make upImage source, Thinkstock
Image caption,
Girls are often targeted with role play toys

Parents are being warned against buying pink, gender-stereotyped toys this Christmas, so as not to deter girls from getting into science.

The Institution of Engineering and Technology claims such stereotypes could be putting girls off engineering and technology.

Its analysis of top retailers and search engine results found 89% of toys aimed at girls were pink.

Only 11% of girls' toys focused on science, technology or engineering.

Conversely, nearly a third (31%) of toys aimed at boys had a such a focus.

'Changing perceptions'

Researchers for the Institute analysed a total of 360 toys and images across the top 10 toy retailer websites, as well as 594 results from top search engines, such as Google, Bing and Yahoo.

They then looked at which toys were labelled as boys' toys and girls' toys.

However, previous research by the Institution shows high levels of interest in science, maths and computing on primary age girls.

Spokeswoman for the IET, Mamta Singhal, said: "Research shows girls clearly do have an interest in science, technology and engineering subjects at school, so we need to find ways to help this to translate into a higher number of women entering the industry.

"The marketing of toys for girls is a great place to start to change perceptions of the opportunities within engineering, moving from toys specifically targeted at girls to Stem toys (toys with a focus on science, technology and engineering.)

"The toy options for girls should go beyond pink, dolls and dressing up so we can cultivate their enthusiasm and inspire them to grow up to become engineers."

'Play is crucial'

Image source, ljubaphoto
Image caption,
Girls are often dressed in pink

She added: "As a child I had traditional "girls toys" but I loved playing with cars, building blocks and creative kits too.

"The toy industry is changing slowly and over the years more gender-neutral toys such as science kits have started appearing.

"Toys can really influence what a child does in later years; therefore Stem toys are a natural move for the industry."

Jess Day, from Let Toys Be Toys - a campaign encouraging retailers to stop categorising toys by gender, said: "Play is crucial to how children develop and learn, and children should feel free to enjoy a wide range of play.

"But all too often toy marketing pushes the idea of separate toys for girls and boys.

"Many retailers have made real progress over the last few years, dropping gender labels in stores and online - our new research shows a 70% decrease in the use of online gender navigation options since 2012 - but there's still work to do to challenge the stereotyped ways that toys are often packaged and promoted."

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