It’s enough that girls must have pink clothing, pink bedrooms, and glittery pink cell phones. It’s enough that girls are taught to recite “pink” as their favorite color. It’s enough that Barbie’s 3-Story Dream Townhouse and Pop-Up Camper are pink. But Legos? Do we really need to force pink Legos on our girls?
Last week, this blog post entitled OMG! I’m Going to Be a Grandmother and I Hate Gender Marketing, caused quite a stir. The author makes the case that while she expects princesses to be pink, there is no practical reason why a corn popper push toy for a girl needs to be pink, and sold side-by-side with the blue popper for boys. There is no logic for the girl’s parking garage to be pink while the boy’s parking garage is red and yellow. Why can’t girls and boys park their cars in the same garage?
I wondered – do girls really prefer pink? Is there a case for the toy companies to market separate colors for boys and girls? According to this article in Time Science, there is indeed a difference in color preference between genders; women chose the redder shades of blue (those with reddish-purple tones) while men chose the greener shades of blue. But the study found that both genders universally prefer blue.
That’s right, men and women agree on blue.
So when Lego decided they needed to reach what they call “the other 50%” of the world’s children, they did extensive market research. And, according to this article in Jezebel, they found that girls play differently than boys. They found that while boys like to focus on the building and following directions that the girls like to take breaks and start developing story. This resulted in a line of toys for girls branded Lego Friends, with pink and purple packaging. They don’t include directions.
Now you’re probably expecting me to rant about why these toys are a bad idea. But I’ll be honest. I like pink. I like purple. I look at the new Lego Friends line and I am drawn in. The packaging is attractive, I like the colors, and I like the idea of a toy built around a story (I am, after all, a story-teller). I am completely on board with the concept of the new Lego Friends line. As a marketer, I think it’s a brilliant idea. What I don’t like is that they are only for girls. It’s the gender marketing that has me seeing pink. I reject the notion that girls can't follow directions. I reject the notion that boys can't be creative. Must we have toys that are for boys and toys that are for girls?
Gender marketing pigeonholes our children into specific roles and behaviors. Is this what we want?
If we insist that girls need pink toys while the boys play with toys that are blue, green, yellow, and red, how is it possible that we can expect them to aspire to the same jobs? If we continue to expect that girls can’t follow directions to build Legos, how can we expect women to learn the skills to debug computer software? If girls need to park their cars in the pink garage while boys park in the yellow garage, how is it possible that we can expect women to be invited to sit at the same boardroom ta