conducted a content analysis of children’s' toys at a national retail
outlet to see if toys are still a medium in the social construction of
gender and socialization. In a Leesburg, VA store I observed toys and
people buying toys, and took extensive field notes and photographs.
I found that toys are a major catalyst in socialization and are props
for how children “do” gender. The colors and textures of the products
were traditionally gendered - dark and rough for boys or light and soft
for girls'. The aisle displays were also color-coded: the girls aisles
were pink and the boys’ aisles blue. Boys were able to choose from
action figures to trucks to musical instruments. Girls were generally
given dolls and dress up clothes. Also, although these toys were
marketed toward the different genders, it was more acceptable for girls
to look at boys’ toys than boys to look at girls’ toys.
I found that not many toys challenged the traditional gender roles.
Furthermore, I noticed that there were many examples of identical toys
with different names and different colors marketed toward boys or girls.
In sum, toys enforce gendered expectations with few exceptions.