Parenting Tips from the Professionals

Parenting Tips from the Professionals

Jo Jowers is a spokesperson for Let Toys Be Toys, campaigning to end labelling toys and books for girls or for boys. In her guest article for us, she discusses parenting, stereotyping and toy marketing.


Shattering the glass ceiling with more women on company boards is no longer the cutting edge of gender politics. When you become a parent there’s a whole new frontier.

Women are excelling in the workplace, more fathers take parental leave, yet advertising tells us that boys and girls live in separate worlds. Play shapes a child’s world. It’s how they learn. But stereotypes are limiting our children.

This is why we set up Let Toys Be Toys. We’re a group of volunteers frustrated by the girl/boy, pink/blue divide. We ask the toy industry, retailers and publishers to stop promoting some toys and books as for boys and others for girls. So far, fourteen UK high street retailers have taken down their boy/ girl signage, and ten publishers have agreed to stop producing books labelled “for girls” or “for boys”.

Dividing toys by gender is not natural; heavily gendered marketing started in the late 1980s. Our Christmas 2015 research on advertisements showed stereotypes reign. Boys are messy, tough, great at construction, strategy and battles. Girls are pretty sparkly, and into craft, make up imagination and nurturing toys. Even the language used showed almost no overlap.

Parents want their children to fulfil their potential. We expect equality and diversity for adults. But we don’t know what impact a heavily gendered childhood could have on equality at work and in society in the long term.

Our top tips? As parents, let kids try different toys and books. Different toys help them develop different skills, so a range of play is best for all children. And they might love something you wouldn’t expect. Ask gift buyers to choose age-appropriate toys that interest your child, rather than choosing by gender. Ultimately, all toys are for all children. After all, the best toy is one that gets played with.


Let Toys Be Toys is a campaign asking retailers, publishers and manufacturers to stop marketing products just for girls or for boys. They can be contacted at or via Facebook.

Released On 2nd Jul 2016

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