Gender-based colours in toys can spur harmful stereotypes

Gender-based colours in toys can spur harmful stereotypes
Gender-based colours in toys can spur harmful stereotypes

Hong Kong : Do you tend to buy only pink toys for your daughter, while keeping the blue toys for your son? Buying gender-based colours for your children can actually reinforce harmful stereotypes leading to real consequences, warns a study.

The colour discrimination in the toys can manipulate the idea of gender roles set by the society in children at a tender age.

Once a child learns about a specific gender identity, their behaviour can be guided by the standards set as being appropriate for their specific sex.

This further guides them later in life on how they interact and adapt to their surroundings, for instance, when taking on chores around the house, such as cooking, cleaning or repairing things, the study showed.

"Our findings support the notion that gender-typed liking for pink versus blue is a particularly salient gender difference," said Sui Ping Yeung, researcher at the University of Hong Kong.

Thus, to curb the stereotypical notion of gender roles among pre-schoolers, toymakers and parents should avoid gender-labelling in toys, remove colour divides, and manufacture toys for both boys and girls in a wide range of colours, the researchers suggested.

For the study, published in the journal Sex Roles, the researchers recruited 129 pre-schoolers, aged between five and seven and divided in two groups.

Children in the first group were presented with coloured cards and toys which had no reference to a specific gender and these children consequently expressed no preference for a specific colour.

However, preschoolers in the second group were told that yellow was a girl's colour and green a boys' colour, and corresponding gender differences emerged in the choices they made.