The Ready for Girls campaign aims to ensure girls everywhere aren’t losing out on the benefits of Lego play due to societal expectations. The stories in the campaign are of: Fatima and Shaikha, 18 and 8, from the UAE, where Fatima is the UAE’s youngest inventor. Her sister Shaikha loves space and wants to be the first woman on the Moon. Then we see Chelsea, 11, from the USA, who is the founder of Chelsea’s Charity, where she gives away free art supplies to children in need so they can creatively express their emotions and overcome challenging times. And Mahiru, 11, from Japan, who is a key member of Seeds+, a school marching band that exists to bring joy through music and creativity.
The harmful effects of gender biases in toys is harmful to girls and boys alike. Seventy-one per cent of boys surveyed expressed a fear of being made fun of if they played with “girls’ toys” – typically, we associate dolls and domestic toys relating to the home and kitchen as being for girls. It’s a fear shared by their parents: “Parents are more worried that their sons will be teased than their daughters for playing with toys associated with the other gender,” says Di Nonno.
But why does a toy matter so much? Because toys are the tools we use as our brains develop to build and strengthen certain skills. “If girls aren’t playing with Lego or other construction toys, they aren’t developing the spatial skills that will help them in later life. If dolls are being pushed on girls but not boys, then boys are missing out on nurturing skills,” explains Di Nonno.
As a result of the survey, and the rising demand and desire for gender accessibility across all sectors of society, Lego has now announced its commitment to get rid of gender biases in its marketing, encouraging play with the iconic childhood product as being fit for girls as well as boys. It has developed a 10-step guide to inspire creative play and invites parents to share photos of their child’s Lego creations. The guide includes advice like: “Praise Creativity, Don’t Judge: When your child shows interest in an activity outside the norm, praise their creativity and ingenuity, and avoid redirecting them to more traditionally ‘acceptable’ activities, which they might find mundane or uninspiring.”