» Archive for category: ‘play

posted by Roy Huijsmans






Gender stereotyping in ads for children’s toys is common. This Dutch website is perhaps the case in point. The homepage features a ‘girls’ (meisjes) button and a ‘boys’ (jongens) button streaming customers to highly gendered toys with dolls and teasets for girls and shotguns and drills for boys.

The Swedish company Top Toy diverts from this trend and uses in their 2012 catalogue a ‘non-gender’ representation. On their website they describe the changes as follows:

‘The changes have been made to show girls more actively playing with toys typically perceived as toys for boys – and vice-versa for boys.’

To be sure, this initiative appears reactive rather than proactive. The move is described as both a response to critique from Swedish customers on the gendered stereotyping in toy adverts, as well as a market response to an awareness that in what is described as the ‘modern way of children’s play’ use of toys in children’s play has become less gendered. In other words, removing gender stereotyping in toy catalogues makes good business sense. That this is not about radical transformation is also evident from the note that the gender neutral approach is not followed through to the same extent in neighbouring markets where the gender debate is considered less far ahead than in Sweden.

Whatever the effects will be of this ‘non-gender’ approach. It certainly appears a clever business move. Seldom will the launch of a new toy catalogues have received so much media coverage than this one: The Wallstreet Journal; Volkskrant; the Guardian; the New York Times. With the Christmas shopping around the corner this appears certainly good news for business, whether it is also good news for gender equality we will see.


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