A new campaign has been launched in a bid to promote more “gender-equal play” in nurseries and childcare.
The Care Inspectorate – the body which inspects registered childcare providers – said the initiative has been brought in because “childhood and play is becoming more gendered and polarised between girls and boys”.
It has teamed up with campaigners at Zero Tolerance – which works to eradicate male violence against women – to produce the guide, which aims to promote the benefits of youngsters of both sexes playing with a wide range of toys.
Children’s Minister Maree Tood (pictured) welcomed the new resource, saying: “Evidence shows that gender stereotyping from a very early age has an impact on the decisions that girls and boys make about their future subject and career choices.
“This guide explains the importance of challenging gender stereotyping and provides ideas and examples for early years professionals of existing good practice.”
Gordon Weir, the interim chief executive of the Care Inspectorate, said toys, books, clothing and other items for children were “increasingly being produced and marketed along gender lines”.
He added: “This can have a negative impact on all children as they develop.
“The role that early learning and childcare (ELC) can have in positively promoting gender equality can’t be overstated and that’s why we’ve produced this resource together with our partners.
“This is about asking everyone concerned in early learning and childcare to think about how they approach gender equality in play and early learning, and how we can positively support and promote it.”
Rachel Adamson, director of Zero Tolerance, said: “Gender stereotypes encourage restrictive ideas of what it means to be a boy or a girl.
“They teach girls to be pretty and not to play with ‘boy’s toys’ such as cars and sports.
“They teach boys to be unemotional and not to play with ‘girl’s toys’ like baby dolls and art.
“Segregating toys in this way limits play, which is crucial to how children develop and learn about the world.”
She added: “The damaging effects of these early gender stereotypes are experienced by all children, but particularly by girls, from a young age, impacting their self-esteem, well-being, job choices and income.
“Evidence also shows that in societies with more gender stereotyping there are higher levels of violence against women.
“By tackling gender stereotyping, we can give children the opportunity to play and learn without the restrictions these stereotypes place on them.”
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