Changing norms

New push for gender-neutral toys include Easy Bake Ovens for boys and action figures for girls

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 31: A Lego Friends Olivia's House at the launch of Dream Toys 2012 at St Mary's Church on October 31, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

In the world of toys, the era of girls playing with Barbie dolls and boys playing with G.I. Joe action figures may soon be fading into memory. A new push by toymakers and lawmakers to make gender-neutral toys for children is showing up on toy store shelves, where Lego Friends sets encourage girls to build, and Hasbro’s blue and black Easy Bake Oven may inspire boys to want to bake more. Target has phased out signs that pointed to girls’ toys and boys’ toys, while McDonald’s instituted a policy to no longer refer to its Happy Meal toys by their target gender, according to The Wall Street Journal. In April, the White House Council on Women and Girls held a conference on how toys can give children ideas about their roles in society and potential jobs at an early age. Now, there are more superhero girl dolls, and boy doll named Will that’s “a cross between an action figure and a stuffed animal.

“Children play eight hours a day or more. That is a huge amount of time to specialize one way or another,” Isabelle Cherney, dean of the School of Education and Social Policy at Merrimack College, told the Journal. “Exposing boys and girls to more kinds of play allows them to have more skills later on.”

Read the full story at The Wall Street Journal.

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