Toca Boca on Gender Neutrality
Toca Boca speaks out about toymakers’ and parents’ responsibilities in setting gender standards.
This week Toca Boca spoke out about gender neutral toys in two British news outlets. In a Telegraph article entitled “The 60m downloads that prove toys can be gender neutral” Toca Boca CEO Björn Jeffery criticizes toy manufacturers and retailers of being risk averse when it comes to challenging today’s stereotypes – “aisles of girls’ toys daubed in gentle shades of pink…[and] toys for boys, and boys alone…if current toys sell, why make any changes?”.
However he does point to some encouraging signs of change coming partly from the fact that the digital space doesn’t have retail shelves. After having sold in 160 countries, reaching over 60 million downloads, and having tested with plenty of boys and girls, Toca Boca’s experience says there “there are greater differences between individuals than genders”. This Jeffery writes, is a lesson for the risk averse retailers: selling gender neutral toys works.
Toca Boca’s Executive Producer Emil Ovemar also took to the press, speaking on BBC World Service Weekend’s Saturday podcast about parents’ roles in reinforcing gender stereotypes. “When we design a new toy, we design it for children…for a specific age, with specific interests but never for girls or boys. Age is so much more important than gender”. He says however that often its the parents who set the restrictions. “They look at our apps and say, well my son can play with your robot app, but there’s nothing else there for him. And we have to push them and say if he’s three, he will love a tea party.”
With company values including the importance of play, quality and safety, and gender neutrality, this is likely not the last we will hear from Toca Boca on this subject.