Babes In Toyland: Gender-specific toys and the gender socialization of children
The present study set out to determine whether toys given to children during their youth are in fact related to the gender identity (femininity/masculinity) that each particular child develops later in life. In order to examine the correspondence between significant gender-specific toys in early childhood and gender identity in later life stages, a four-part survey instrument designed to measure both was constructed and distributed. Respondents were asked to list five “favorite” toys, in order of preference, from their early childhood, defined as the time between infancy and 8 years old. Respondents were also asked to complete a revision of the Bern Sex Role Inventory (BSRI) designed to measure gender identity. Female and male respondents from all age groups consistently listed a majority of stereotypically feminine and masculine toys, respectively. Those respondents displaying a gender orientation inconsistent with their sex listed either a toy specific to the opposite gender (masculine if the respondent was female and feminine if the respondent was male) or neutral almost every time, suggesting a strong correspondence between gender specificity of toys and unusual gender orientation. Data provided by the female respondents in all age groups demonstrated a substantial correspondence between gender identity and significant gender-specific toys in early childhood. Data offered by the male respondents in all age groups only supported the correspondence between quantity and preference of masculine toys and higher masculinity. Lack of support for other relationships may be attributed to the fact that far more females provided data than did their male counterparts.