Gender stereotyping

By | November 11, 2010

C is a girl.  You may have noticed that.

We didn’t find out what sex C was before she was born so the nursery was decorated in neutral colours.  It was lovely; 3 walls off white and one wall bright yellow with stick-on multi coloured spots.  We moved house when C was 5 months old and decorated her bedroom quite similar again.  She has a few pink accessories now – a clock, height chart etc but on the whole you could easily put a boy in there too.

We’ve never bought her a doll.  In fact, she owns more of what would be classed as ‘boys toys’ than anything remotely girly.  That annoys me – ‘boys toys’.  Its a car for goodness sake, why can’t a girl play with a car?  She’ll drive one when she’s older, I hope she’ll even learn how to change a wheel and check the oil.

I know in a years time that pink may be her favourite colour and the only toys she’ll ever ask for might be dolls, although I hope not.  At the moment her favourite things are tractors, cars and animals.

I was a tomboy, although I did own a few dolls.  That was just me.  I’ve grown out of it slightly now – I’ll wear a dress at least – but I still don’t mind getting stuck in and helping with diy or fixing the car.

But is what I’m doing with C wrong?  If someone buys her a doll then I have no problem with it and will happily let her play with it but I just can’t see me ever buying her one. 

As I type this she’s wandering around with a duster she’s found and pretending to clean anything she can reach.  This was the inspiration for this post really; I was just thinking about buying her a pretend cleaning set for Christmas but then decided I didn’t want her to grow up thinking that was what girls did.  I just don’t know whether I’m overcompensating for all the gender stereotyping that goes on or not? 

How do you get that balance right, or are they ultimately just going to start school and like dolls regardless of anything you do or say?  Do you encounter the same problems with boys?

Photo credit: Tractor, dolls



pixie on November 11, 2010 at 12:03 pm.

I’m a but like that with K. Though admittedly he is into typical ‘boy’ things. He loves cars…..anything with wheels. Building blocks, and already showing interest in technology!(eep!)

Regarding what to get her, I think you can’t go far wrong if you just get her toys she will love playing with regardless of their intended gender. Kal-El lives hello kitty and as such has a number of pink teddies. He loves playing with toy prams and shopping trolleys. If you have no problem with her playing with either gender toys, then don’t worry yourself. When it comes to the cleaning set though, if you think she will enjoy playing with it, then get her it. You’re not the type of parent to instill gender stereotypes into her just by the toys she has. You’ll teach her much more than the whole pink and blue divide.

I hope that makes sense, I’ve typed it in my phone! So may be various typos. Xxx

Emma on November 12, 2010 at 8:22 am.

Thanks for commenting, it makes perfect sense! I just get annoyed with it all sometimes. We have friends with 2 boys and they’re quite obsessed with getting C a doll for Christmas but the only reason for it is because she’s a girl, as they know how much she likes cars, trains etc. I’m not bothered about them buying her a doll and I’m sure she’ll play with it, its just the reasons behind them getting her one if you know what I mean?!

moormummy on November 11, 2010 at 2:58 pm.

I am the same with the little girl. She spent the whole of last weekend taking trains with her everywhere around the house. She has a rag doll that her nanny got for her but has loads of trains books etc. Having said that she has recently become obsessed with babies. I think because she is now one of the oldest in her room at nursery so she sees babies while there. In fact when I picked her up this week they told me she had been helping to look after the babies by bouncing them when they are in the bouncy chair. She gets very excited when she sees babies and dolls. I think I will have to get her a baby doll for Christmas.

Emma on November 12, 2010 at 8:24 am.

C hasn’t really shown any interest in dolls at groups I’ve taken her to yet. She likes ragdoll type ones but she calls them teddies rather than babies.

Maybe you’ll have to get the little girl a real baby to play with 😉

moormummy on November 17, 2010 at 7:45 pm.

lol, I don’t think that will happen any time soon 😉

Erin on November 11, 2010 at 8:46 pm.

Perhaps it’s because I bestowed such a feminine name on her, but my daughter Aurora has quite the number of “feminine” toys. I think the thing that amuses me the most about the number is that we, as her parents, only bought her ONE of those (LeapFrog’s Violet, as opposed to Scout). I decorated her nursery more feminine than you did (but I knew she was a girl) but the walls are still green. If she decides she hates the ladybug motif, I can easily get rid of it and not have to paint the room over again.

Did you know they make pink cars? I didn’t until she got a set for her first birthday. I was actually thrilled that she got cars, and she loves to play with them!

I think the reason I feel this way is I identified somewhere between tomboy and girly-girl. I loved my baby dolls and my Barbie dolls, but I also loved to steal my brother’s Legos, K’nex, TinkerToys, and Erector sets to play with. I asked for a model rocket for Christmas one year, and nobody ever bought me anything but feminine toys. I can already see this pattern happening with Aurora, so my husband and I have decided that we’ll be the ones that listen to what she REALLY wants. If she wants a model rocket then by golly, I’ll help her put it together.

Emma on November 12, 2010 at 8:29 am.

Maybe it is name related – C has the female version of a typically male name!

How sad that you didn’t get your rocket! I hope C will be interested in everything as she gets older. I was similar to you really. I was never bought lego or meccano but I loved to steal my brothers!

Mari on November 12, 2010 at 10:20 am.

I have added a train set to the girl’s Christmas gift list much to the surprise of family members but hey, they love Chuggington so why not? I agree with you, we have cars, tractors, animals and a bit of pink too.
Thanks for entering this in Make A Friend Friday, I hope you have lots of new readers :)

ines on November 13, 2010 at 11:28 pm.

I worry with the effects of gender stereotyping on girls. About 2 months ago I decided to take action and create a number of information and product sites set to reduce the threats to girlhood.

You might enjoy them, I am currently working on educational products such as books, ipad apps etc.

My dream can be found here:

I would be really grateful if you could provide me some feedback


maddydodo on November 16, 2010 at 3:25 pm.

I have two boys of 3 and 1. We have a wide range of different toys in our house: ‘boys toys’ like tractors and trains and ‘girls toys’ like dolls and buggies.

My older son likes to take his buggy with him when we go for a walk as often as he likes to take his scooter. Someone once did comment that it was unusual to see a boy with a buggy – is that true? if so, it shouldn’t be, men do push buggies these days!

We have a toy cleaning set (brush, mop, bucket)that both boys love, as do their freinds, both male and female. I wonder if it was easier for me to buy this for my boys than it would have been if they were girls though, given that it goes against the gender stereotype? in fact part of me was probably thinking ‘if this encourages them to grow up to be the sort of men that do their share of the housework then it’s a good thing!’

I think maybe the best thing we can do as parents is let them have a range of different toys and try not to worry too much about sterotypes!

bigwords on November 23, 2010 at 1:47 am.

We have three girls and while we don’t have a pink room, nor do we buy frilly pink dresses, or baby dolls, our eldest has suddenly developed a desire to only wear pink. No idea where it’s come from, but I don’t discourage her either way. She also thinks she’s a cat and hates watching shows with fairies or princesses. The second child’s favourite colour is blue and the third is only four months. I figure they will all work out what they like as they grow.

I must say though I do hate gender stereotypes and silly assumptions that all girls like one thing, and boys the other. People aren’t like that, even little people.

Great blog post! x

pop over and visit bigwords one day!