The marketing of toys is more gendered now than 50 years ago when gender discrimination and sexism was the norm. Advertisements from the 1970s showed children playing with a variety of toys dressed in bright, happy colours like red, green or yellow. Sweet, a toy maker said "By the 1980s and 1990s however, there was a backlash against feminism, and toys started to become more gender segregated, though it was still not like the sharply divided pink and blue aisles we see today."

We went to a toy shop and saw for ourselves saw the gender divide is big and everything is very stereotypical. Girls are given dolls and home toys and there are more active toys for boys. We found that the packaging could influence at even a young age: Girls are taught they will be the mother and the home help, boys are taught to be independent, that they will be more powerful and the hero.

Children should decide for themselves what they think is fun

As far as we are concerned toys are for fun, for learning, for stoking imagination and encouraging creativity. Children should feel free to play with the toys that most interest them.  Dolls and pretend kitchens are good at teaching kids cognitive sequencing of events and early language skills.  Building blocks like Lego and puzzles teach spatial skills, which help set the groundwork for learning math principals down the line.

We put together a series of images to identify the issue regarding the segregation of gender stereotypes (above).

Children should decide for themselves what they think is fun. Play matters. Children need a wide range of play to develop different skills. Marketing matters. Directing consumers in this way is restricting children’s play. The real world  has moved on. These gender stereotypes are tired and out of date- We say...

Let toys be toys

Toys targeted towards young girls show alarming themes of glamour and beauty that can lead to them worrying about their outward appearance. In some cases children's toys such as 'Barbie' have created dolls that portray housewives and mothers.

Stereotyped attitudes about boys are equally harmful. The constant assumption reinforced in toy advertising and packaging that boys are inevitably rough, dirty, rowdy, and interested only in action and violence, which isn't the case. Boys should be allowed to play with the toys they want, not the toys that are forced upon them. Why cant toys be gender mutual again?

Story created by Lottie Armstrong, 17 and Abi Wilkes, 17 from Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK

Created as part of the Pop Up Newsroom event for International Women's Day 2017 #popupiwd #IWD2017