How eliminating gender bias can build confidence and creativity

How eliminating gender bias can build confidence and creativity

Creativity has no boundaries and is equally relevant to the development of any child, anywhere in the world, regardless of their gender, ability or background.

We know that progress is being made on so many fronts, but there are still a range of invisible biases that can prevent children from fully developing and expressing their creativity.

In recognition of International Day of the Girl, we wanted to learn more about potential constraints and biases that children may face today when accessing creative play, and the impact that might have.

We partnered with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media to commission a new piece of research to see how creativity is seen by parents and their children and whether it differs for boys and girls. Founded by the Academy Award-winning actor, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media is a research-based organization that aims to create gender balance and inclusion and reduce negative stereotyping in family entertainment media.

So, what did our research show?

Crunching the numbers around creative play

The good news is that our research found that girls today feel increasingly confident to try out different types of creative activities, but we also found that society’s ingrained gender stereotypes are still at risk of hindering girls from developing their full creative potential.

74% of boys vs. 62% of girls believe that some activities are just meant for girls, while others are meant for boys

Though there is still a way to go, this shows that girls feel less restrained by typical gender biases than boys, and that girls feel more confident and inspired to pursue any profession or interest. For example:

82% of girls believe it’s OK for girls to play football and boys to practice ballet, compared to only 71% of boys

This would seem to suggest that girls are generally more open towards several types of creative play compared to what society typically encourages.

Though girls have made progress in brushing off old prejudices, various types of play are still heavily judged as being gender specific.

Parents are almost six times as likely to think of scientists and athletes as men instead of women (85% vs. 15%) and over eight times as likely to think of engineers as men instead of women (89% vs. 11%)

We found that daughters are typically encouraged to take part in activities that are more cognitive, artistic and related to performing and cooking, compared to sons who are more likely to be encouraged to engage in activities that are related to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). This includes playing with LEGO bricks.

Parents are almost four times as likely to encourage boys over girls to engage in program games (80% vs. 20%) and sports (76% vs. 24%) and over twice as likely to do the same when it comes to coding toys (71% vs. 29%).

We believe that creativity should have no boundaries and we recognize that there is still work to be done, and that includes us.

How the LEGO Group can play our part

We want to ensure every girl feels welcome in our universe and we’re committed to doing everything that we can to ensure that they don’t lose out on the benefits of LEGO play due to societal expectations.

“The benefits of creative play, such as building confidence, creativity and communication skills, are felt by all children,” says Julia Goldin, Chief Marketing Officer at the LEGO Group. “And yet we still experience age-old stereotypes that label activities as only being suitable for one specific gender. At the LEGO Group, we know we have a role to play in putting this right.”

The LEGO Group’s new ‘Girls Are Ready’ series, part of our ‘Rebuild the World’ campaign, aims to show the world that girls are ready for anything and everything. To help prove that point, we’re showcasing projects led by entrepreneurial girls from around the world who are already taking the lead and rebuilding the world through creativity.

Fatima, an 18-year-old female inventor from the UAE, says, “when I look at my little sister, I see her curiosity and her creativity.”

Together they made an impressive space rover out of LEGO bricks that is being displayed at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre.

Sammie has managed to make over 150 ‘buddy benches’ by collecting recycled bottle caps to help tackle loneliness.

Then there’s Chelsea, who is on a mission to provide arts and crafts supplies to children as a way for them to express themselves. She has donated over 13,000 art kits in over 30 states and two different countries.

“This campaign is one of several initiatives we are putting in place to ensure we make LEGO play more inclusive, so that all children can reach their true creative potential,” continues Julia.

To continue to ensure that LEGO products and marketing are free of gender bias, we are excited to continue our partnership with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

“I believe that creativity can give people energy and hope,” says Mahiru, a young girl who plays in a marching band that uses the power of music to spread joy.

Through elevating the work of others or through examining our own practices, we’re completely committed to making LEGO play more inclusive and ensuring that children’s creative ambitions are never limited.

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