Why We Should Buy Gender Neutral Toys for Our Daughters


This holiday season, we bought our kids the new Lego advent calendars, where each day they open a small lego set with the objective of creating a little “holiday” scene. My son received the Lego Star Wars themed calendar, my daughter the Lego Friends calendar.

Well, we are only one week in, and I am already appalled at the difference in the building experience between the two sets. Each day my son’s toy has at least 15 pieces and requires him to look at the picture and use spatial awareness and planning to make all the different spaceships and weaponry. My daughter, on the other hand, has opened (Spoiler Alert!) a bunny, a dog, a girl, a sled and a little windowsill. Only one toy had more than 5 pieces, and the rest are accessories with minimal to no assembly required.

Maybe it will get better as the month progresses, but we have other Lego sets where my daughter’s kit requires minimal actual creation and is much more about the accessories while my son’s entails pretty elaborate construction.

There are many reasons why this upsets me, including the fact that my son’s toy is more enticing merely because he picked the “boy” toy. I observe his entire experience of working hard, creating something really elaborate and feeling proud of himself- and it’s awesome! Meanwhile my daughter connects Moana’s head to her body and then tries to entertain Hey-hey with a small structure and lots of flowers. It seems more than unfair.  

I’m not trying to pin this all on the Lego company, as this is just one illustration of many where traditionally “girl-themed” toys just aren’t as conceptually challenging or stimulating. Like a doll compared to a transformer, anyone? Transformers inspire spatial awareness and physical manipulation; why can’t there be more feminine toys like that?

This is setting girls up for failure. Because while my son can stay focused for over an hour building an elaborate car/spacecraft/boat and then spend even more time playing with it, my daughter gets stuck with a “shop” that has tons of little decorations but does not require much actual thought, and she’s bored about 10 minutes later.

It’s no wonder girls are less interested in things like coding, science, and construction, aka the STEM subjects. Because boys are getting exposed to STEM activities in a fun, appealing way at a much earlier age.

To be clear, I think girls should be able to play with whatever toys they want.

Ideally, “girl” and “boy” toys would be synonymous and equally as engaging. But for now, for this holiday season, if your daughter is interested in building, constructing, or tech-y type projects, consider buying a gender-neutral or “boy” version of that toy. Because for better or worse, chances are it will be more stimulating for her, expanding her focus, interest and sense of accomplishment.

To see how we can combat the masculine culture around this issue, check out these forward-thinking companies that are creating engineering and construction toys catered to girls’ interests, like Goldie Blox and Roominate.

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Meredith is a transplant to the Bay Area and has fallen in love with the weather, gorgeous scenery, and plethora of local wineries. A wife and mother of two, she works part-time as a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist. She hails from Texas, where she attended the University of Texas and will always bleed orange. She then moved to Washington DC to attend Georgetown's School of Medicine, where she fell in love with her future husband, a fellow student, and has been happily married for almost a decade. She and her husband lived in Cincinnati, Ohio for several years for their medical training and found it the perfect place to start a family. She relocated to the Bay Area a few years ago and has quickly adapted to West Coast living. Meredith enjoys the balance of part-time working and full-time parenting and loves to write about this ongoing struggle. In her persistent drive to find more "me time", she actively pursues her interests in reading, running, soccer, baking, and wine tasting.


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