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The White House Takes Aim at Toys That Perpetuate Gender Stereotypes

April 6, 2016

The administration wants to change the way we think about gender roles—starting with the toys we give children

The White House Council on Women and Girls is hosting a daylong conference Wednesday aimed at shifting the way media and toys present gendered images to young people.

“Research shows that the toys kids play with and the media they consume has a real impact on the skills and interests they develop over their lifetimes,” Tina Tchen, the executive director of the White House Council of Women and Girls, said on a conference call. “We think it’s important for children’s media and toys to expose kids to diverse role models and teach them a variety of skills.”

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The conference comes at an interesting time for toys and media: While companies like GoldieBlox have won praise for marketing construction as an activity open to girls and boys, some department stores have come under fire for promoting gendered messaging in their toy aisles. The White House is joining the conversation by championing the idea that breaking down gender stereotypes will be key to future generations’ success in the workforce.

“That is really what’s going to be key to us as a nation, really making the best use of the talents of all of our workforce,” Tchen said.

Read more: What CrossFit Can Teach Pro Sports About Gender Equality

As a part of the conference, several organizations and companies—including Netflix, Girl Scouts, Discovery Communications and TIME for Kids (a sibling publication of TIME and Motto)—have announced new efforts to present diverse images to kids. A session of PlayCon, the annual toy industry conference, will also be dedicated confronting to gender stereotypes.