Mattel launched a new line of robotics engineer Barbies on June 26 to represent girls taking on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) careers.
“We wanted to shine a light on this underrepresented career and field for women,” Lisa McKnight, Barbie’s general manager and senior vice president, said in an interview with Glamour.
These dolls represent a recent trend toward toys that defy gender stereotypes or even the existence of distinct genders.
In the 2017 BBC documentary No More Boys and Girls, physician Javid Abdelmoneim experimented with removing gender distinctions from an elementary school classroom. The BBC website described a scene in which a leading UK neurologist informed the viewers that the brain does not not distinguish between males and females. Instead, it is “a plastic organ, shaped and molded by experiences, in which childhood is key.”
What does this mean for parents? Gender-neutral toys “help counteract some stereotypes that limit children’s thinking about what and who they can and should be,” Ann Barbour, professor emerita of Early Childhood Education Charter College of Education, told Care.com.
“Let Toys Be Toys” is a campaign in the U.K. that promotes toys and books that reverse gender stereotypes. In December, the group published a gift guide for books supporting their worldview, which included titles like Sleeping Handsome and the Princess Engineer. In that version of Sleeping Beauty, the princess rescues the sleeping prince. Another book on the gift guide featured a character called “Spacegirl” and her two moms.
While Christians should lead the charge against true sexism, parents must be careful to train their children in a Biblical view of gender: that God created male and female with distinct biologies and roles.
“We love children, and we want them to flourish,” said Denny Burk, author of multiple books about Biblical sexual ethics. “In today’s climate, that means parents have to be vigilant even over the toys that children play with, especially when those toys send messages contrary to the Biblical ones they are teaching at home.” —Charissa Crotts