It’s 2019, and despite the efforts of the most progressive parents and educators, many girls still think toy cars are for boys.
It’s not their fault. Gendered marketing to kids is more prevalent than ever. Recent U.K. research found that boys in toy catalogues are four times more likely to be shown with cars, and girls were 12 times more likely to be shown with dolls. And kids are extremely susceptible to these messages.
While some companies have made efforts to push back against stereotypes (Canadian Tire is one) open any toy catalogue or watch any kid’s show (we’re looking at you, Peppa) or commercial, and harmful gender stereotypes tend to prevail.
That’s why we need more ads like this one encouraging girls to play with cars.
In the video above, Mercedes-Benz USA and Mattel unveil a toy car they hope will inspire girls to see that they have no limits — with what they can play with, or what they aspire to be.
And it’s not just some plain ’ol toy car. It’s a die-cast Matchbox replica of the Mercedes-Benz 220SE that Swedish racing champion, Ewy Rosqvist, drove in her historic 1962 Argentinian Grand Prix performance.
She was ridiculed for attempting the three-day journey across rough terrain, Mercedes-Benz notes in a news release. But, she was the one laughing after she won every stage of the race, set a speed record, and beat the previous champion’s time by three hours.
The toy cars will be sold starting in 2020 (no word yet on if they’ll be available in Canada, but HuffPost Canada has reached out to Mattel to find out).
For now, Mercedes-Benz USA and Mattel are gifting them to thousands of girls in the U.S. through a non-profit.
For those who doubt encouraging girls to play with cars can make a difference, check out the volumes of research on how gender stereotypes are harmful and can have life-long impacts (for all genders).
Kids start learning about their gender around age two, and as they grow up, they adjust their play behaviours based on what society, media, and their parents say are connected with their gender, Lisa Dinella, an associate professor of psychology at Monmouth University, previously told CBC News.
This can influence everything from the skills they acquire playing with a certain toy to their academic and professional success, according to the New York Times.
But, studies have shown that breaking the cycle can be as simple as seeing kids playing with toys that turn these stereotypes on their heads; a girl playing with a car, for instance.
Also on HuffPost: