Hasbro and Other Toy Companies: Why’d It Take So Long?

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 IMG_6292**Apparently, Toys R Us hasn’t gotten the message that today’s girls and boys aren’t defined, anymore, by blue or pink gender-specific toys. The above is a pic of their aisles (Note the association with what gender does what..)

I live in Rhode Island, the land of Hasbro, that big, worldwide toymaker, the home of Mr. Potato Head.

Here’s my question to that successful toy manufacturer, Hasbro:  “Don’t you have women in your board rooms making decisions…women who have little boys and girls in their families, women who’ve noted the very real and dramatic shift in recent years that now sees boys comfortable in the role as cooks and girls as  truckers?”

Why does old typecasting (when it comes to gender-specific toys) still prevail?

Sadly, Hasbro’s not alone in perpetuating age-old myths.

If one heads into the aisles of Toys R Us, one notes “pink” and “blue” aisles with signage that says Cooking and Cleaning’s for little girls, while Cars and Trucks are for boys.  Hardly equitable turf.

If you’re an illiterate, the signs do all the talking.

Boys appear on boxes for toy outdoor grills, presumably because outdoor grilling’s considered “Domain of men.” It’s masculine.

You almost never see little boys, on boxes, wielding utensils, cooking at a toy stove, in the kitchen. That’s apparently still considered a woman’s world…at least in advertising.

Well, Hasbro now says it’s working on changing this…that these new kitchen stoves (with pictures depicting both boys and girls, cooking) will be on the market by Spring of 2013.

How’d their new vision come about?  A New Jersey teenager (girl) spawned the new campaign when she registered her dismay to the company that their packaging is anything but gender-neutral (Easy Bake Oven was pink and she wanted to purchase it for her 4-year-old brother). Her letter  to them made national news.

But, here’s my question:  “Why didn’t Hasbro notice this trend on its own?” “Why did some 13-year-old need to bring it to their attention?”

Aren’t toy companies supposed to be on the vanguard of social change in the “have-their-ear-to-the-ground” sort of way?  

As author of the Rhode Island-based Grandpa and the Truck books, we care deeply about the messages toy manufacturers send to children, and we don’t find companies ready enough to embrace societal changes current in America. 

Specifically, the sexes today cross over, pursuing careers that were previously off-limits to them. It’s happening all over (the military just endorsed women in combat.)

In Book 2 of our childrens’ truck series, Grandpa and the Truck, “Girl Truckers” focuses on two legendary Rhode Island women who went into the long-haul trucking business.  They became highly-respected by all in their industry.

Their truck of choice?  A bright pink 18-wheeler.

My husband and I hope Hasbro produces such a big rig, to reflect the current trend of more women on the nation’s highways, driving 18-wheelers.  Some of them (like our heroines) fancy pink trucks.

If Hasbro picks up on that growing trend,  they might just capture a new audience who demonstrate the fact pink no longer conveys “silly” or “frilly.”

Then, too, maybe Barbie makers will make an attractive, female doll to drive those big metal beasts. She won’t have silly heels or skin-tight clothing.

She won’t be smiling, adoringly, aside Ken, either—unless they’re team-driving.

Does Hasbro need to change how it does business?  Apparently so. They’ve just announced that due to lower profit margins, they need to  cut hundreds of jobs…They didn’t make the numbers this last quarter, the all-important Christmas season. 

Maybe we at Grandpa and the Truck and the New Jersey teen aren’t the only ones noting gender-paralysis, when it comes to Hasbro’s toy-making.

Word to the wise, Hasbro: Make toys today that represent  a new reality in the workforce.  In that mode, too, we still want to know:  Can you make that pink big rig?

girl truckers begin trucking

 

About admin

A lifetime teacher and realtor who's now a published writer, Colleen Kelly Mellor is a humorist first, ever aware of the thread that connects us all. Her works have appeared in the WSJ, Providence Journal, and CNN and NY Times-acclaimed medical blog, kevinMD.com, to name a few. All material on this blog is exclusive property of the author and cannot be reproduced without this author's express written consent.
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