For many parents, especially young Millennial parents in the US and parts of Western Europe, raising a child in a gender-neutral way, or close to this, is a key goal. This involves allowing a child to be themselves, and to avoid conforming to a gender stereotype that does not fit their personality.
This trend is, however, largely limited to middle-class homes in developed countries. In much of the developing world, gender stereotyping holds firm, except among a wealthy, educated, internationally minded elite.
Millennial parents and shifting attitudes to children’s gender roles
There is a shift evident in the attitude of many parents, particularly in developed markets, and especially among older Millennials who are becoming parents, towards a more gender-neutral approach to child raising, using neutral colours and with names suitable for either gender proving popular.
The changing role of mum and dad
The male / female family roles are very culturally dependent, but in many parts of the world are shifting gradually towards a more balanced partnership, with women more likely to work outside the home and men more likely to take an active role in chores and childcare. This is aided in some markets, particularly in Northern Europe, by improved maternity and paternity initiatives.
This shift in gender balance in the family plays a significant role in the raising of children outside traditional gender stereotypes, as children are exposed to more equal gender roles. Moreover, families that strive to balance gender roles between mother and father are more likely to actively pursue a lifestyle for their child which does not trap the child within the traditional stereotypes for his or her gender.
There are significant shifts towards gender neutrality, but this is mainly restricted to developed markets, while developing markets are instead seeing a push towards more gender-targeted products to add value.
In terms of products, the strongest opportunities lie in STEM toys, due to the huge push to encourage girls into this area, and the frequent failure of manufacturers to get the balance right between a girl-targeted toy and a gender restrictive toy. Modern takes on dolls, such as female action figures, are also key, as is active clothing for girls.