When you walk into the toy section of any store, you do not need a sign to indicate which section is the girls’ side and which section is the boys’ side. Aside from all the pink, purple, and other pastel colors that fill the shelves on the girls’ side, the glitter sticks out a lot as well. The boys’ toys however are mostly dark colors – blue, black, red, gray, or dark green. The colors typically used on either side are very stereotypical in themselves. I noticed the girls’ toys engaged fine motor skills more than the boys’ toys did.
The girls have several different types and sizes of dolls to choose from – however, this also makes dolls or items used with dolls (Barbie clothes, doll clothes, doll houses, Barbie cars, and doll furniture) over half of all the products in the girls’ section. This shows the stereotypical attitude that all girls like to nurture and will someday be expected to be mothers and the primary care giver for their children. Other toys I noticed that were very stereotypical were the child size vacuum, broom, and kitchen set. Even at this young age we teach girls it is part of their role to cook and clean.
Another stereotype I saw demonstrated in the girls section was the idea that all girls are animal lovers. A large section of the girls’ side was filled with different stuffed animals or other toy animals like “Pound Puppies” or “My Little Ponies”. Mostly the girls’ toys used fine motor skills instead of gross motor skills, most promoted non-aggressive play and behavior and promoted a stereotypical idea such as cooking, cleaning, or caring for children. The boys’ toys mostly all used gross motor skills. Like the dolls in the girls’ section, the boys have equally as many types of cars or other vehicles to choose from.
The boys’ side consisted of mainly three categories all together – 1) action figures, 2) “role” toys (guns – “Cops and Robbers” or “Cowboys and Indians”; ax, helmet, and badge – fireman; and miniature tools for pretending to be a construction worker) 3) cars. I discovered there weren’t really any toys in the boys’ section that didn’t fit in one of these three categories. All the boys toys were very stereotypical. The extreme concentration of cars in the boys’ toys shows the stereotypical attitude that all boys like cars. The toys that weren’t car related all promoted either an aggressive behavior or “manly” job.
Like the girls’ section, very few toys didn’t promote a stereotypical idea. Few toys were aimed equally at both genders. Even board games, while intended for both sexes, usually seemed aimed more towards one gender or another. Both sections had a lot of gender- stereotypical toys. General ideas on girls’ and boys’ behaviors and interests were very prevalent in the toys intended for each gender. After really looking at the toys in both sections it is easy to understand why stereotypical ideas about both genders are so strong since these ideas are introduced at such a young age.