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Gendered Toys and Young Girls

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Gendered Toys & Their Effect on Young Girls' Career Choices
Filiz Keser & Fllanza Hakaj Sociology 31
Gender Stereotypes
Throughout history, society has created expectations for women in all aspects of their life. Though we have made great progress in gender equality, careers are still informally segregated due to gender.
Symbolic Interactionist Perspective
- Gender inequality is something that is transmitted from generations through gender-role socialization.
- "Doing gender"- masculinity and femininity are performed gender identities.
“Critics say toy marketing exploits gender stereotypes, channeling dolls, cookery sets and pink princesses towards girls and action men style figurines, construction kits and blue racing cars towards boys.”
(V. Barford, 2014)
Most "girl" toys can be placed in at least one of three categories: 1. Luxury play- play that serves no purpose other than to stimulate the girls’ imaginations in settings of extreme opulence & wealth.
2. Housework play- a girl mimics doing household chores.
3. Interpersonal relationship play- a girl is meant to identify with a doll of some kind, and she and other “dolls” are meant to interact.
These toys perpetuate negative stereotypes and establish unreal expectations for young women.
In an experiment conducted by Aurora M. Sherman & Eileen L. Zurbriggen
- Forty-five girls (aged 4-7years) were randomly exposed towards a sexualized doll (Fashion/Doctor Barbie) or a still obviously feminine control doll (Mrs. Potato Head) in 5 minutes of free session play.
- Girls were then taken away to play “the picture game”, where experimenters showed girls 10 photos of workplaces & read the captions (eg.: “This is a restaurant where a food server works”).
- Then, the girl was asked two questions: “Could you do this job when you grow up?” or “Could a boy do this job when he grows up?”  
Results: girls who played with a Barbie doll as compared with girls who played with a control doll reported fewer careers as future possibilities for themselves than were possible for boys. This result was true whether the girls played with Fashion or Doctor Barbie.
Social Policies For The Future
-Explicitly explain that despite the lack of representation, women can do anything men can.
-Stop the sexualization of young girls' toys.
-Increase the amount of positive role models in girl's toys/advertisements.