All Articles Tagged "gender inequality"
On the surface, the change from pink and blue labeling marking girls and boys toys to red and white signs; and the organization of toys by interest rather than gender inside Hamley’s toy store in the UK, looks like a simple store remodel. But a gender equality movement is staking a victory claim in the store’s facelift, claiming that their internet campaign is what motivated the store to remove its stereotypical labeling.
Gender apartheid is what blogger Laura Nelson said Hamley’s, which she also referred to as “shamleys,” was previously guilty of as she explained the horror of a pink girls floor “filled with fluffy objects” and a boys floor that was “all action and adventure.” Citing the dearth of women in leadership positions in the UK, Nelson says it all starts with toys:
“There are many contributing factors, and one is conditioning of children from an early age. Deep-rooted in our society are stereotypes that dictate to women and men and influence them on the roles in society that they are expected to fill.
“There is an underlying current of expectation, tradition and what is accepted as the norm, and it sets
down different paths for different genders which often becomes a reality.
“The toys that children are exposed to play a major part in this. From birth, boys and girls are bombarded with stereotypes; boys are allowed to be more aggressive and climb trees, while girls are encouraged to be passive and play with plastic teapots.
“Even the name that Hamleys uses for its beauty salon, ‘Tantrum’, is consistent with the stereotypical ‘hysterical’ woman – unsuited to leadership and far better aligned with the domestic role and fussing over home and appearance.”
Nelson considers the gender-neutral color scheme that now characterizes Hamley’s to be a “milestone,” tweeting: “Still can’t quite believe it, the campaign worked!!!!!!”
But she says she’s not done yet, “We still have work to do on the nature of the toys themselves.”
Nelson is right, there’s still a lot to do to achieve her group’s mission because even Hamley’s denies that her campaign had anything to do with their store’s redesign. It’s somewhat hard to believe as Nelson’s campaign has garnered quite a bit of attention, but a store spokesperson insist consultants and customer surveys revealed the store’s directional signage was confusing, therefore their intention was merely to improve customer flow. If that claim is true, should stores be listening to the gender apartheid campaign?
Dwindling the lack of women in corner offices down to the root cause of receiving an Easy Bake Oven at the age of 5 is a stretch, but the idea of socialization that it speaks to certainly is not. There are several cultural norms perpetuated on boys and girls that have long-lasting effects. Still, I’m not sure the responsibility of that socialization lies with toy stores. After all, it is parents who purchase toys for kids and who decide whether a video game is too violent for their child or the clothes that come along with a Barbie doll are too revealing. Several parents in Jezebel’s write up of the story even commented that they’ve purchased toy kitchens for their sons and don’t pay attention to gender labels anyhow.
Hamley’s caught some bad press for its store design as a result of Nelson’s efforts labeling it “sexist” when I don’t think that was necessarily at the root of its design. What I see happening is a trickle-down effect that will find any store with a boy/girl toy aisle guilty of gender discrimination when ultimately it is parents who will have the greatest influence on their child’s balance of femininity or masculinity and there’s not much you can do to police that. If you’re going to attempt to get at the root of gender roles in society you have to start with patient education about their influence on their child’s view of male-female roles.
What do you think about the connection between sex-assigned toys and gender inequality later in life? Should stores like Hamley’s be pressured into removing gender labels? Will it make a difference?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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Yesterday, I was forced to repeatedly listen to Beyoncé’s new single, “Run the World (Girls),” thanks to a precocious teenager who insisted on playing the song ad-nasuem. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not hatin’ on Beyoncé. The song has catchy lyrics and a sick beat. But after hearing it for the eighth time, I was pretty much ready to bang my head against the wall to the rhythm of the song. Yet at some point during the ninth replay of the song, I began to wonder if there was some legitimacy to Beyoncé’s girl-power anthem: do girls, also known as women, really run the world?
There is a really compelling argument to make that women may have finally achieved a power advantage in society. In an article written last year for The Atlantic, writer Hanna Rosin discussed the global economy’s shift to favoring “female” characteristics while male-dominated industries, such as manufacturing, construction and finance, are declining.
The U.S. Department of Labor seems to support Rosin’s argument. Statistics show that women comprised 46.8 percent of the total U.S. labor force in 2009, and are projected to account for 46.9 percent of the labor force in 2018. Women have also made great strides in management, professional and related occupations with 40 percent being employed. Also, for the first time in history, more women have college degree than our male counterparts.
Yes, Virginia Slims; we have come a long way, baby.
While there is no doubt that woman have made some gains in society, there is still a fair amount of inequality that women face in the workplace and in society at large. The biggest obstacle is the earnings gap between men and women. Women are likely to earn only 77.5-80 cents for every dollar that men earn for the same work—and that number decreases if you are a woman of color. Although economists who predicted that the income gap would decrease, it has actually stayed that same with no movement. In fact, 59 percent of working women are making less than $8 an hour.
Despite Beyoncé’s assertion that “we give birth to children then get back to business,” as a result of the economic recession, single women with children became the poorest group in this country. In 2009, of those households that lived in poverty, 29.9 percent were headed by single women, compared to 16.9 percent of single men and 5.8 percent of married couples. Unfortunately, very little is being done to assist households led by single mothers to retain their places in the workforce. Despite the financial hardships that come with the new arrival of a child, many employers still do not provide women with any benefits if they need to leave work temporarily.
Globally, women account for two-thirds of the world’s 774 million illiterate adults. In some parts of the world, women and girls bear the brunt of poverty. Their lack of control over resources, including land and other types of property, has limited their economic autonomy, which has made them the most vulnerable group to economic or environmental issues.
Back in the U.S., a woman is assaulted or beaten every nine seconds. Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than care accidents, muggings and rapes combined – and every day, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends. Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. Most often, the abuser is a member of her own family.
Despite the fun posturing in the “Run The World” song, the reality is still much closer to the words of James Brown, in that it’s still a “man’s world.” By the way, out of all the world leaders currently in power, only 20 of them are women. Though it has been a record-breaking year for women in power, it’s still not enough to actually rule the world.
Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.
(Inc.com) — Almost 50 years after it became illegal to pay women less than men, women still face lower wages and fewer managerial opportunities than men during the past decade, says a new study. Female managers earned 81 cents for every $1 earned by male managers in 2007, up 2 cents from 79 cents in 2000, according to the Government Accountability Office report released Tuesday.