Some parents struggle to find gender-neutral toys

MICHELLE R. SMITH Associated Press Published:

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- A 13-year-old girl's campaign to get Hasbro to make a gender-neutral Easy-Bake Oven is a fresh sign of movement in an old debate.

Parents who hope to expose their children to different kinds of play -- science sets for girls and dolls for boys, for example -- can find themselves stymied by a toy industry that can seem stuck in the past when it comes to gender roles.

Dr. Susan Linn, a Harvard psychologist who cofounded the advocacy group Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, says rigid messages about what boys do and what girls do can limit children's ability to reach their full capacity.

Toy experts say the industry reflects cultural norms, and toy companies are giving people what sells.