A new campaign has been created to raise awareness of and promote “gender-equal play” in childcare settings.
The Care Inspectorate – which inspects registered childcare providers – stated that the guide was brought in because “childhood and play is becoming more gendered and polarised between girls and boys”.
They joined forces with Zero Tolerance – which strives to eliminate male violence against females – to create a guide which shows the importance and advantages of both boys and girls playing with a wide variety of toys.
Maree Tood, Children’s Minister, stated: “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, who is the interim Chief Executive of the Care Inspectorate stated that everything from books, toys and clothing is “increasingly being produced and marketed along gender lines. 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.”
Director of Zero Tolerance, Rachel Adamson, said to Express & Star: “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.”
Ms Adamson 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.”