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Toys and Gender Socialization



It has been a while since the research by Kenneth and Mamie Clark did their research showing that black children preferred white dolls. Now the Mattel toy company is taking a bold step in creating gender-neutral dolls for boys and girls. What do your students think about this?




Discussion Questions


  1. This is a controversial topic. Perhaps one way to get a sense of what people think about this product is to read the comments on the video in YouTube (click here to go to the video on YouTube)
  2. As usual with YouTube comments, many are quite negative, but let's use this opportunity to apply some careful analysis and critical thinking:
    1. Read carefully the comments of those who oppose the idea - what reasons do they give?
    2. Similarly, what reasons do those who like the idea give for their opinion?
  3. After reading the comments you could pose a poll question to the class: do you think the gender neutral dolls will indeed fill a need for children, or is this all just marketing? Kahoot, PollEverywhere and your Cengage mobile app are all capable of providing students with easy and anonymous ways to respond to polls. You could use these options in one of your poll questions:
    1. It's a great idea
    2. It's okay
    3. I'm kind of opposed to it
    4. It's a horrible idea
  4. Project: opinions are easy to express online. What does the research say about children and dolls? Do children attend to the gender of their dolls? Does the gender or race of a doll have an effect on children?




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