Attitudes to gender start early. This caught my eye at the front of my local Target store recently. The two displays are in the children’s section about a metre apart, an aisle between them delineating which are “Girls” clothes and which are “Boys” clothes.
The mannequins show us, along with all the children in store that Boys wear blue and stand with their arms relaxed at their side, feet firmly planted shoulder width apart – looking strong and confident, while Girls wear pink and stand with their hands posed outward, knees bent together and toes pointed inward – looking, what… coy? Coquettish?, submissive? I’m not sure, but not strong or confident anyway.
And then we wonder how we end up with workplaces full of people with out-dated and unhelpful ideas about gender roles. I wonder how many organisations talk a big game about inclusion and equal opportunity in their employment policies or practices, then perpetuate the very same issues through their products, marketing and merchandising?
Cameron Houston, Principal, Batley Evans & Co