After just one quick stroll down any toy aisle in America, consumers expect to find a wide variety of the latest gadgets from neon gooey Floam to the coveted new Nintendo 3DS. Hidden behind the allure of such novelties, one inherent flaw transcends the entire institution of children’s toys: the unmistakable gender division.
From strictly pink and purple kitchen sets to blue and green racecars, something so trivial as the color of children’s toys impresses the harsh reality of societal standards on the youth of today.
Make no mistake, fault does not lie solely with the CEOs of toy companies that domineer the market. Rather, such products are a mere reflection of the modern world’s warped perception of gender roles: women as childrearing housewives and men as reliable breadwinners.
Though no concrete laws restrict gender equality, these detrimental stereotypes no doubt undermine the supposed guarantee of universal freedom for all Americans to pursue individual happiness. Forces such as the media, parental attitudes, peers, and even toy stores ingrain the message of skewed gender standards into the developing minds of each new generation.
Society, in a sense, answers “no” to the ambitions of each child through curbing their development to fit the narrow boxes labeled “men” and “women” respectively. Without the option to choose which toy to play with, for example, allows pre-held notions of gender roles to infringe on the formation of individual identity.
Stereotypes influence the distinction between masculinity and femininity in the American workforce, no doubt a ramification of the instilled mindset of unbreakable gender boundaries.
Evident in the medical field, male doctors dominate the scene and female nurses serve patients according to their prescribed plan of care. However, this so-called “norm” turns the idea of a male nurse into an almost shameful career while a woman’s goal of becoming a doctor is viewed as nearly unachievable.
To overview the entirety of the STEM field, the United States Department of Commerce reported that one in seven engineers were female in 2011. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, attributes this statistic to gender standards: “If girls are interested, they have the potential to go further… There are still lingering stereotypes that affect girls in middle school and they lose interest in the subject.”
On the flip side, James Charles testifies to the adversity he endured as the first male Covergirl at age 17, “It has not been widely accepted in the past so it was definitely just a learning process.” This reinforces the difficulty for all men to deviate from deep-rooted standards of masculinity.
Ultimately, the undeniably slanted view of gender roles that grasps modern society prove detrimental to childhood development, thus accounting for the disparity in today’s workforce.