“I Just Don’t Really, Like, Connect to It”: How Girls Negotiate LEGO’s Gender-Marketed Toys
LEGO has become a contested site of children’s culture. Once regarded as a toy for all children, LEGO’s rebranding as a “boys’ toy” and, later, the development of a separate line of LEGO toys for girls raised concerns about gender equity and inclusion. Given the brand’s reputation for benefitting children through STEM play, LEGO’s gender segregation and gender-stereotypical marketing practices are laden with cultural significance and meaning. In this chapter, authors Hains and Shewmaker present findings from interviews and play sessions with twenty girls, ages six to eleven. The authors found that girls understand and may adopt the gendered marketing associations of LEGO toys, but when they offered their participants a chance to play with LEGO sets away from the contexts of their often gender-stereotypical packaging, they found that many girls contradicted gender stereotypes by engaging in active, creative play.
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