December 15th, 2011
06:12 AM GMT
London (CNN) – Does toy marketing ingrain gender stereotypes?
Hamleys, the famous London toy store, has taken down gender signs for its toys in the wake of a campaign by a feminist blogger that the store’s blue-and-pink marked floors were sexist.
Previously, the fifth floor of the Regent Street flagship store – where action figure and war-themed toys were sold – was marked with a blue “Boys” sign. Gone, too, is the third floor “Girls” sign which sells dolls and craft toys.
Blogger Laura Nelson started the campaign with an October post that accused the store of promoting “gender apartheid.”
“There were very different toys on the girls' floor as opposed to the boys' floor,” Nelson told CNN’s Richard Quest. Nelson, who has a degree in neuroscience, believes that gender roles reinforced by toy selection hurt the numbers of women taking leadership roles in science and business.
Asked if this is political correctness “gone mad,” she said: “I’m absolutely delighted that people are having a debate and talking about it now because it’s getting the issue out into the open.”
Her campaign began just days after a brief online and Twitter campaign against UK retailer Marks & Spencer noted that an astronomy set was only listed in the store’s boys toy section online, not the girls. The company responded the same day, changing its online catalogue.
Hamleys, for its part, has told the press that the change was coincidental to Nelson’s campaign.
“While we welcome comments from all customers and interested parties on improving Hamleys, in this case we regret that the changes to our signage were not due to any campaign,” the store said in a statement.
“We are in the process of detailed planning for a complete refit of our store on Regent Street. As part of this planning, it was made clear to us from consultants’ and customer surveys that our store directional signage was confusing. As a result we commenced changing all our signage in October of this year in order to improve customer flow.”