Toys "R" Us: Stop Marketing Gender Stereotypes to Children
  • Petitioned Antonio Urcelay

This petition was delivered to:

Interim CEO, Toys “R” Us, Inc.
Antonio Urcelay
Director, Corporate Communications, Toys "R" Us, Inc.
Jennifer (Keenan) Albano
Executive Vice President, Stores and Services, Toys “R” Us, Inc.
Troy Rice (Executive Vice President, Stores and Services, Toys “R” Us, Inc.)

Toys "R" Us: Stop Marketing Gender Stereotypes to Children

    1. Petition by

      A Mighty Girl

Now is the time for Toys "R" Us in the USA to join its counterparts in the UK and Sweden and end the rampant gender stereotyping in its marketing of toys to children. This week, Toys "R" Us in the UK committed to ending gender-based marketing and the Swedish Toys "R" Us franchise, Top Toy, published its first gender neutral toy catalog last holiday season. By following their examples, Toys "R" Us in the USA can send an important message to children, parents, and others that children's interests should not be limited by their gender.

Thirty years ago, it was common to see ads featuring girls and boys playing together with a wide range of toys; however, as anyone who has opened a toy catalog or walked into a major toy store in recent year knows, toys are now segregated by gender to an extreme degree. Science, building, and adventure toys are largely considered the purview of boys while dolls, arts & crafts, and toy kitchens are considered "girls toys." Through its gender-divided in-store signage and advertisements, Toys "R" Us reinforces antiquated stereotypes and encourages unnecessary divisions in children's play.

Such segregated play leads girls and boys to hone different skill sets from an early age; skills they build upon to determine the direction of their future schooling and later career path. These differences perpetuate the disparities still seen in the job market, particularly in women's low representation in technical fields like engineering and computer science, further cementing the gender-based wage gap. The number of children bullied because they wish to explore types of play that fall outside of the Toys "R" Us gendered 'boy' and 'girl' boxes also continues to rise.

Fortunately, there are easy steps that Toys "R" Us can take to make its stores and marketing materials more gender inclusive. Many toy companies in Europe have already shifted from organizing toys by gender to organizing them by toy type or theme such as science toys, pretend play, and games. From Britain’s largest department store, Harrod's, to Top Toy in Sweden, there are numerous models for Toys "R" Us to follow of other industry leaders moving away from gender stereotyping. We now ask for Toys "R" Us to step up and become a leader in the USA.

As the biggest toy store chain in the country, Toys "R" Us can set a new standard for inclusiveness by committing to end gender stereotyping in their stores and advertisements.

Here are a few steps Toys "R" Us can take:

- Remove 'boy' and 'girl' headings in their catalogs and in-store toy sections; sort toys by theme rather than gender.

- Display photos of children engaged in diverse and non-stereotypical types of play in marketing materials; a girl playing with a science set or a boy with a play kitchen.

- Display photos of boys and girls playing together with a variety of toys.

- Stop using pink and blue as proxies for 'girl' and 'boy' sections within marketing materials; let children know that a world of color is available to them.

Every child should feel free to explore their interests without being held back by what others believe a girl or boy should be, learn, or do. Let's stand together in calling on Toys "R" Us to stop marketing outdated gender stereotypes to children.

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    1. Reached 4,000 signatures

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    • Tristan Detwiler FT. LAUDERDALE, FL
      • about 1 month ago

      I lot of merchandise can be for both boys and girls. This blue and pink stereotype needs to stop.

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    • Evelyn DeJesus LA VERGNE,, TN
      • 3 months ago

      Because girls should not feel “different” for wanting to play with rockets and dinosaurs and trains, etc and boys should not feel shamed for playing with dolls! Quit separating them - they are children!

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    • Catherine Nauer SANDIA PARK, NM
      • 3 months ago

      It took me until 10th grade to learn for myself that everyone is some mix of the arbitrarily assigned feminine and masculine and to be so was normal, human, and healthy. Toy separation like this, aggressive gendering like this, was a fairly large part of why it took me so long to discover the joys of skirts, accept that it was okay for me to like pink, and that even doing these things, I was still a badass. When I go in a store I still struggle with shopping in the men's section even though I like their shorts better (hey, clothing that actually covers my legs without being pants and pockets! not to mention some of the designs) and that is ridiculous. Products don't need aggressively gendered. People will buy them not gendered and hey, you might actually make more money, if you care about that more than toxic masculinity, sexism, and transphobia.

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    • Jeff Hood MILWAUKIE, OR
      • 3 months ago

      Smash the patriarchy.

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    • Joana Smolen REDWOOD CITY, CA
      • 3 months ago

      gender roles that these toys support are out of date and restricting.

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