Equal Play

The Mayor wants to tackle gender stereotyping early so no child is held back from reaching their full potential.

Research shows we develop careers aspirations at a young age - some studies suggest it's as early as four years old. This means it's important that children have early and equal opportunities to develop their knowledge, skills and aspirations for the future.

Many aspects of childhood are unequal. For example, science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) toys are three times more likely to be advertised to boys than girls. Yet we know there is a skills shortage and underrepresentation of women in these sectors. The flip-side is the underrepresentation of men in caring professions, such as nursing or teaching.

  • 3x
    more STEM toy ads
    targeted at boys than girls
  • 4
    years old:
    age careers aspirations start
  • 21%
    UK STEM workers
    are women
  • 2%
    early years educators
    are men

Equal Play Conference | 29 October 2018

To explore what gender equality means in childhood, the Mayor convened an Equal Play Conference to bring together a range of sectors for the first time at City Hall.

150 representatives attended from the advertising, manufacturing, publishing and retail industries, as well as government, education, charities and parent groups.

The event was opened by keynote speakers; Joanne McCartney AM (Deputy Mayor of London), Rosie Rios (43rd Treasurer of the United States), Sam Smethers (CEO - Fawcett Society), Emma Perkins (Senior Director - LEGO) and Guy Parker (CEO - Advertising Standards Authority).

Scroll through the gallery below to learn more about the day.

Pledge for #EqualPlay

Use the hashtag #EqualPlay to showcase what you're doing to champion gender equality in childhood. Over 250 tweets have been posted since the Equal Play Conference.

You can scroll through what attendees pledged below.

Gender Action Schools Award

To tackle gender stereotypes in schools, the Mayor is funding a new Gender Action award programme to be rolled out across the capital in 2019.

The programme is being developed and run by a consortium of experts from the Institute of Physics, King's College London, UCL Institute of Education and the University Council of Modern Languages. This will provide:

  • Guidance that works, backed by over a decade's worth of research by leading institutions
  • Support that makes it quick and easy for practitioners to navigate and tackle gender stereotypes
  • Improved outcomes for children with broadened subject take up and careers aspirations
  • National recognition that your school is leading the way for gender equality

Educators can pledge their commitment to gender equality and learn more by registering on the Gender Action website.

Family Explorer Trail

equal play dino
To support Families to address gender stereotypes in childhood, the Mayor has partnered with the V&A Museum of Childhood to create the Equal Play Family Explorer Trail.

Parents and carers can use the Trail to explore the Museum's fantastic collections and discuss how play can influence children's aspirations. We want to help families show children there's a whole world of exciting jobs out there which are open to both girls and boys.

Printed booklets are available at the Museum - or you can download a PDF copy below.

Commission on Gender Stereotypes in Early Childhood

In April 2019, the Fawcett Society launched an expert Commission on Gender Stereotypes in Early Childhood. This aims to build a consensus on the impact of gender stereotypes and end them.

Joanne McCartney AM has been appointed to the Commission, which will be headed up by Director of the UCL Institute of Education, Professor Becky Francis and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fatherhood, Rt Hon David Lammy MP.

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