Gender Stereotyping of Children
s Toys: A
Com parison of Parents and Nonparents
C. Estelle Cam penn i
Parents and non parents were com pared to exam ine differences in the use of
gend er stereotypin g to classify children
s toys. G en der-stereotyping was also
exam in ed based on the age of the child. Paren ts an d nonparents were sam pled
from a pred om in antly white, m id dle an d upper m idd le class popu lation .
Subjects rated the appropriaten ess of 206 toys for use by girls and/or boys an d
were in general agreem ent regardin g toys identified as gender-stereotyped. In
general, fem inine toys were stereotyped m ore than masculin e toys although
parents were more gen der neutral in their ratings of toys than non parents.
Comparisons across m others an d fathers suggest that in teraction s with children
may in fluence paren tal perception s of gender-appropriaten ess differentially for
mothers and fathers and is partly depen den t on the sex of the child(ren).
Finally, it appears that while toys are gender stereotyped for all age groups,
there is more flexibility in gender stereotypin g of toys for infan ts an d toddlers.
Previous inve stigations which have directly assessed the de gree to which
adults gende r type childre n
s toys indicate d that adults use traditional gen-
der stere otype d standards when classifying childre n
s toys (Maste rs &
Wilkinson, 1976; Mille r, 1987; Fishe r-Thompson, 1990) . The se findings have
important implications for the type s of implicit and explicit message s adults
send to childre n and the gende r role de velopme nt that emerge s in children
base d on these message s (Mische l, 1970, 1973) . Perhaps the most visible
role mode ls and dynamic social influe nce in childre n
s lives are their par-
ents. To date , the de gre e to which parents ste reotype childre n
s toys has
not been extensive ly explore d. The pre se nt research compared parents
Sex Roles, Vol. 40, Nos. 1/2, 1999
1999 Plenum Publishing Corporation
I am grateful stite s to Brooke Can non, Ed Obrien, David Renjilian, and Jennifer Stites for
their comments on a pre vious version of this manuscript.
To whom corresponde nce should be addre sse d at Department of Psychology and Counseling,
2300 Adams Ave., Scranton, PA 18509; e-mail: campenni@ ac.marywood.edu