Following up on a previous post about gendered gift giving guides at Lego and Toys R Us, I discovered something interesting.

I was intrigued by the Toys R Us guide because it asked the buyer to specify the gender of the child, but then tended to have more or less the same “personality” and “interests” options.  For example, below are the choices for girls and boys.  You’ll see that they are very similar.

Girl personalities:

girl personalities

Boy personalities (same, sans “Glamour Girl”):

boy personalities

Girl interests:

gints

Boy interests:

bints

So, why even ask about gender, I wondered?  I did a test.  For both boys and girls ages 12-14, I checked “techie” and “building” to see what I would get.

What I got was rather fascinating.  I can’t remember where I originally heard it, but someone somewhere observed that when it came to technology, there was a stereotype that men were  the engineers and designers and women were the consumers and users.  That is, both men and women might like technology, but men were active in producing technology and women just got to benefit from men’s hard, brainy work.

Well, that’s essentially what Toys R Us told me.  Remember, for both boys and girls, I checked “techie” and “building.”  Here is the top 24 gift suggestions for boys:
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So that’s 13 building/engineering games (like Lego and KNEX), 3 ipod accessories, 4 portable DVD players, 2 MP3 players, and a few other things.

What do girls get?  Seven ipod accessories, 5 portable DVD players, 4 MP3 players, 3 laptop computers, 3 cameras, and one building/engineering game.  One.
CaptureG1

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Sure enough, Toys R Us confirms that girls may like technology, but boys build it.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
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