The toys and gifts we give children can be a key influence in their understanding of gender roles. From a young age, girls have traditionally been given baby dolls where boys are given toy guns. Boys are given guns where girls are given make up sets.
Here are some of our top picks for gifts that you can give the young people in your life that will help to subvert, challenge or disrupt those limiting gender stereotypes.
Super science kits
Women are hugely under represented in STEM subjects – encourage girls to see themselves as future scientists with this slime making kit. While many science retailers are starting to notice that they’re missing a trick with their kits that are heavily targeted to boys, many have filled the gap with pink kits that make lipbalms and bath bombs.
A kit like this is perfect for boys and girls, with no heavy stereotyping and also encourages them get thinking about their environment, which is an added bonus!
Science website The Planets has a great round up of the best non-gender specific science kits for all age ranges.
Kids love dressing up – but do girls have to be princesses and boys have to be policemen? We love costumes that celebrate women who have made major achievements or broken the mould. Like this Rey costume for Star Wars fans (there are loads of versions out there).
Equally, embracing the idea that girls and boys can choose costumes that represent any profession is great – encouraging girls to dress as police officers and letting boys feel free to choose non-traditional ‘boys’ costumes will reinforce the message that they can be whatever they want to be in life.
There are loads of great kids books with strong girls in them now, from Paperbag Princess, a story about a girl who gets tired of waiting to be saved by a price and takes matters into her own hands, to I Dissent, a children’s book based on the life of modern feminist icon Ruth Bader-Ginsburg. But one thing we love are the books who have a girl or woman in a role that is most often a male character.
‘My Mom is a Firefighter‘ is not only about a woman in a traditional ‘male’ job, but is also a great celebration of a mother outside of the stereotypical home role. A must have for younger children.
LEGO we love
LEGO is great for getting kids interested in building and creating. However, they’re another culprit for kits that are heavily gendered. The girl figures in them are often princesses or sexy superheroes and the majority of, even non gender specific sets are dominated by male figures.
That said, there are signs of improvement on the horizon. The recent Women of NASA kit has been really popular, however we prefer the subtlety of the Movie Maker kit. It shows characters of both genders playing an active and equal part in the film industry and we appreciate the way this set presents equal representation as a norm rather than an exception.
You might surprised to see this on our list. But here’s the thing… Children love copying what their parents do. Regardless of their gender.
Buying empowering gifts does not mean that fun children’s staples like play kitchens and hoovers have to go. It means they have to stop being pink. And it means that we should be buying them for our sons as well as our daughters.
We’re big fans of this minimalist IKEA dream that you won’t mind having on display.