Traditions within various cultures promote the passing down of certain toys to their children based on the child's gender. In South American Indian communities, boys receive a toy bow and arrow from their father while young girls receive a toy basket from their mother.[17] In North African and Saharan cultural communities, gender plays a role in the creation of self-made dolls. While female dolls are used to represent brides, mothers, and wives, male dolls are used to represent horsemen and warriors. This contrast stems from the various roles of men and women within the Saharan and North African communities. There are differences in the toys that are intended for girls and boys within various cultures, which is reflective of the differing roles of men and women within a specific cultural community.[18]
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A milestone for research on gender is the use of meta-analysis, which provides a way to assess patterns in a systematic way, which is especially relevant for a topic such as gender, which can be difficult to quantify.[27] Nature and nurture have historically been analyzed when looking at gender in play, as well as reinforcement by peers and parents of typical gender roles and consequently, gender play.[27] Toy companies have often promoted the segregation by gender in toys because it enables them to customize the same toy for each gender, which ultimately doubles their revenue. For example, Legos added more colors to certain sets of toys in the 1990s, including colors commonly attributed to girls such as lavender.[28]


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A distinction is often made between dolls and action figures, which are generally of plastic or semi-metallic construction and poseable to some extent, and often are merchandising from television shows or films which feature the characters. Modern action figures, such as Action Man, are often marketed towards boys, whereas dolls are often marketed towards girls.
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A milestone for research on gender is the use of meta-analysis, which provides a way to assess patterns in a systematic way, which is especially relevant for a topic such as gender, which can be difficult to quantify.[27] Nature and nurture have historically been analyzed when looking at gender in play, as well as reinforcement by peers and parents of typical gender roles and consequently, gender play.[27] Toy companies have often promoted the segregation by gender in toys because it enables them to customize the same toy for each gender, which ultimately doubles their revenue. For example, Legos added more colors to certain sets of toys in the 1990s, including colors commonly attributed to girls such as lavender.[28]

Another study done by Jeffrey Trawick-Smith took 60 different children ages three to four and observed them playing with nine different toys deemed best for development. They were allowed to play with the toys in a typical environment, a preschool classroom, which allowed for the results to be more authentic compared to research done in a lab. The researchers then quantified play quality of the children with each toy based on factors such as learning, problem solving, curiosity, creativity, imagination, and peer interaction. The results revealed that boys generally received higher scores for overall play quality than girls, and the toys with the best play quality were those identified as the most gender neutral, such as building blocks and bricks along with pieces modeling people. Trawick-Smith then concluded that the study encourages a focus on toys which are beneficial to both genders in order to create a better balance.[32]


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