Toys Influence Gender Roles: An Annotated Bibliography

Throughout society there are many influences that play a critical role in the development of gender roles.  Children’s toys are an example of an influence that is easily seen within today’s society and has a large effect on gender roles. Children learn roles and skills from playing with they toys that they are given. These toys determine to some extent which roles and skills they learn. When children play with these toys it teaches them how girls and boys should function in society when they get older.  When one walks into a toy store, there is an obvious separation between girls’ toys and boys’ toys, and this separation of toys emphasizes the separation of duties that men and women must carry out.

Sweet, Elizabeth “Guys and Dolls No More?” New York Times, 21 Dec. 2012. Web. 16 Feb. 2014.

Elizabeth Sweet’s “Guys and Dolls No More?” highlights the idea that toys for children are marketed by gender.  Toys marketed to young boys are extremely different from those that are marketed towards young girls. Girls are encouraged to play with dolls, kitchens and vacuums; while boy toys are cars, guns, tool-kits and sports related. Sweet, talking about the Lego Company, states, “The girls’ sets are more about beauty, domesticity and nurturing than building — undermining the creative, constructive value that parents and children alike place in the toys.” The separation between “boy toys” and “girl toys” influences gender roles in society such as Sweet claims, “The ideas about gender roles embedded in toys and marketing reflect how little our beliefs have changed over time.”

Elizabeth Sweet is a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of California, Davis.

Abadi, Ponta “Kids’ Toys: More Gendered Than Ever” 5 June 2013. Web. 16 Feb. 2014

Ponta Abadi argues that children’s toys are more gendered now more than ever before. Abadi states that toys are sold in sections based upon gender and ultimately teach children their role in society. Abadi states ““Boys’” toys tend to involve aggression, such as toys that make punching or crashing sounds, while “girls’” toys often revolve around beauty and domesticity.” Many believe that these toys shape children’s futures, such that, girls will cook and clean and boys will do the dirty work.

Ponta Abadi, an alumna of the University of Oregan’s School of Journalism and Communication, was the print managing editor, copy chief, and copy editor for the Oregon Daily Emerald.

Ryan, David B. “What Messages About Gender Roles Can Be Associated With Toys”. 16 Feb. 2014.

David B. Ryan states that children’s toys shape the way that child will become. Ryan believes children that play with “feminine-based toys display nurturing traits and use those toys in role play.” The same goes for “masculine-typed toys that then show high levels of activity and mobility.” There are stereotypes for men and women that Ryan writes about; women are “supposed to be” domesticated, while boys and men are typically aggressive, says Ryan.

David B. Ryan has been a profession writer for many years. His work includes various books, articles for “The Plain Dealer” in Cleveland and essays for Oxford University Press. Ryan holds degrees from the University of Cincinnati and Indiana University and certifications in emergency management and health disaster response.


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