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UOA Gender Neutral Toys Questionnaire


Assignment Prompts:

  1. Describe changes over time in the extent to which children’s toys are made and marketed in gender-typed ways. (2-4 sentences)
  2. Were you surprised by these historical patterns? Why/why not? Explain. (3-4 sentences)
  3. According to the readings, why does heightened gender-typed marketing among children’s toys matter (i.e., what is the effect of this practice for children’s development)? (1-2 paragraphs)
  4. What is an alternative way to organize children’s toys (that is not gender-typed)? (2-3 sentences)

How changes in children’s toys relate to larger social shifts:

  • As you read, despite progress toward gender equality during the second half of the 20th century, messaging in children’s toys and marketing was simultaneously increasingly gender-typed, presenting an interesting paradox. Some scholars suggest that one explanation for this trend is that as women gained social and political power (e.g., an increasing presence in the labor force, higher education, and the political realm), toys have come to embody an ideological backlash to this progress. That is, as the roles of men and women become more similar in larger society, there is a greater need to distinguish between masculinity and femininity within the culture, and to emphasize that the traditional aspects of gender roles have not been abandoned.
  1. What do you think about this explanation for the documented trends in gender-typing children’s toys? (You are presenting your subjective evaluation here.) (3-4 sentences) 
    • OPTIONAL: You are welcome to assert another possible explanation or counter-argument for this trend. 
  2. In your opinion, what are the (a) merits AND (b) limitations of Alex Myers’ argument presented in the Op-Ed regarding Mattel’s “gender-neutral” dolls? (1-2 paragraphs)
  3. Explain what you found most surprising, interesting, and/or important while completing this assignment.  Be sure to specify what it was and why it captured your attention. (1-2 paragraphs)


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