LEGO has committed to removing gender bias from its products and marketing after a study it commissioned found that “unequal and restrictive attitudes” towards play hinder girls from achieving their creative potential.
Although the toy company didn’t lay out specific steps to achieve this plan, it announced on Monday that it has pledged to ensure that its toys and marketing collaterals are “free of gender bias and harmful stereotypes.”
Conducted by research organization Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media on LEGO’s behalf, the study included interviews of almost 7000 children and parents in seven countries about their views on careers, extracurricular activities, and toys.
Published to coincide with the UN’s International Day of The Girl on October 11th, the research found that 76% of parents would encourage their sons to play with LEGO bricks while just 24% would do so with their daughters. It also found that parents were almost five times more likely to encourage girls to play dress-up than boys, and around four times more likely to encourage girls to dance or cook and bake. On the other hand, parents were far more likely to encourage boys to play coding games or participate in sports.
“The benefits of creative play such as building confidence, creativity and communication skills are felt by all children and yet we still experience age-old stereotypes that label activities as only being suitable for one specific gender,” said Julia Goldmin, LEGO Group’s chief marketing officer, in a statement.
As part of its efforts to be “more inclusive,” LEGO has launched a brand-new campaign that celebrates female creativity. Called Ready for Girls, the campaign is a series of short films that highlight the achievements of girls and young women around the world.
The short film series features 18-year-old Fatima Alkaabi, United Arab Emirates’ youngest inventor; 11-year-old Chelsea Phaire, who founded a charity providing art supplies to disadvantaged children in America; and 11-year-old Mahiru Suzuki, a Japanese schoolgirl who created a marching band that rebuilt her city after a difficult time.
“We know we have a role to play in putting this right,” Goldmin said of the gender bias among parents. “And this [Ready for Girls] campaign is one of several initiatives we are putting in place to raise awareness of the issue and ensure we make LEGO play as inclusive as possible.”
LEGO has had its fair share of criticisms for reinforcing gender stereotypes. For instance, back in 2011, the company’s LEGO Friends range was slammed by toy reviewers for targeting girls with pink beauty parlors and cupcake bakeries. But LEGO has also championed inclusion in recent years. Just this May, LEGO dropped a rainbow-colored LGBTQ-themed set called Everyone is Awesome, which promotes diversity and inclusivity.