Amazon has removed the ‘Boys’ and ‘Girls’ categories on their children’s toys in an end to what twitter user Jack Danger has called ‘the gendered taxonomy of toys.’ There are still multiple links to pages for “boys’ toys” and “girls’ toys” elsewhere, but Jack said he believes this is on its way out as they work their way through the huge Amazon index.
So what’s the problem with associating different toys with different genders?
Last year, education minister Elizabeth Truss warned that typically gender specific toys have deeper effects on later career choices. Lego being seen as a ‘boys’ toy’ for example, risks dissuading girls from STEM subjects in later life. A report in 2012 showed that only 6% of engineering roles were held by women. By contrast, dolls have typically been seen as a ‘girls’ toy,’ whilst amongst adults 82% of (generally low paid) caring roles are women.
It’s difficult to paint this so clearly as cause-and-effect, because of course gendered stereotyping has far deeper reaches than the toys we give our children. Indeed, it might be fairer to see toys as another symptom of entrenched sexism, rather than a cause of it. However, Amazon making a conscious decision not to pigeon-hole children into outdated stereotyped roles can’t be a bad thing – if they’d only pay their taxes, I’d give them a clap.