Not much has changed over the past fifty years. Despite the current gender-fluid craze, children still prefer to play with toys that are stereotypical to their sex and gender. Society has changed a lot of the past 5 decades with greater equality evidenced by the number of women in the workforce, higher levels of education and higher income levels.
So, have these changes affected a crucial part of children's development: play? More specifically, as gender roles have become more fluid, have children's preferences toward gender-typed toys become more fluid, too?
The short answer seems to be no. For decades, studies have shown that boys and girls generally prefer playing with toys typically associated with their biological sex: toy trucks for boys and dolls for girls, to give a rough example.
These results have remained remarkably stable over the past 50 years, according to a 2020 meta-analysis of research on gender differences in toy preferences. Published in Archives of Sexual Behavior and titled "The Magnitude of Children's Gender‐Related Toy Interests Has Remained Stable Over 50 Years of Research," the analysis examined 75 previous studies, 113 effect sizes, and a range of toy preference measurements.
Authors of a recent study, Jac T. M. Davis and Melissa Hines found "a broad consistency of results across the large body of research on children's gender-related toy preferences: children showed large and reliable preferences for toys that were related to their own gender. Thus, according to our review, gender-related toy preferences may be considered a well-established finding."
Davis and Hines concluded:
"It may be tempting to think that social changes over time might be reducing children's play with gender-related toys, given arguments that play with a broader set of toys would be beneficial for both boys and girls. Unfortunately, however, broad change in the social roles of men and women do not seem to have influenced children's toy choices, perhaps because they have been counteracted by stronger marketing of different toys to girls and boys over recent time. If society wants girls and boys to play with the full range of toys, more targeted action is probably required."
Even babies, pre-socialisation stage, preferred gender-typical toys according to the studies.
Binary spokeswoman, Kirralie Smith, said the results don’t bode well for radical gender activists.
“There are innate, biological differences between males and females. This is evidenced in biology and in the choices even very young children make. Social engineering can only go so far. Males and females are different. That is a good thing. It is something we ought to celebrate and emphasise for the health, safety and benefit of everyone in society.”
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