Gender and Play

30 Jun 2016

The toys and games that children choose to play with, communicate a very important message and greatly influence the roles and skills that they learn for later life. The expectations of how girls and boys should behave has notably evolved since the late 1900’s and this has resulted in evident changes within the toy manufacturing business.


kids gender blog final

A recent article that cropped up on my newsfeed discussed the revival of the beloved children’s programme Bob the Builder. This show ran from 1998-2012 and was famed for its lovable characters and fun depiction of working and construction life. 2015 saw the rebirth of Bob the Builder with some big character alterations, particularly in the female character of Wendy. In the original series, Wendy works for Bob and handles a lot of the paperwork and secondary construction jobs. However, in the latest series, she is portrayed as Bob’s business partner and qualified electrician. In an era where science, technology, engineering and mathematics are of the utmost significance yet have an incredibly low level of female integration, adjustments in classic, well-known productions like this are imperative. This investigation into kids’ toys, shows and games has become a common occurrence in recent years and the surge in non-gender-specific means of entertainment has been colossal.


bob the builder final



Children’s toy choices have been shown to have long-term consequences for their future social and cognitive development. The emergence of gender-neutral toys and the breakdown of the male-female segregation in kids play reflects how important it is to allow children to partake in all elements of play. To broaden their creativity, we believe children should not be limited in their choices of amusement based on their gender.  


The Ooks that inhabit our virtual world are varied, diverse and equal. There are Ooks who are female (ROOKabilly, DiscOOK) Ooks who identify as male (Ooklaf, WarriOOK, ManiOOK) and Ooks who are neither (SkeletOOK, DeliciOOK). The adventures that these crazy creatures indulge in are not overpoweringly sweet and cutesy, nor are they intensely bold and masculine. Whether they are fighting evil broccoli bunnies or fleeing the scene on the back of a dizzy dolphin, the Ooks always seem to find themselves in crazy situations; they are unpredictable critters and that’s why the children love them. Ultimately, the Ooks and their activities strive to encourage creativity, learning and enjoyment in youngsters without pandering to gender-specific patterns.





The Ook world is a carefree place that encourages kids to be themselves, express their thoughts and share their unique taste and style freely. As mentioned in one of our previous blog posts, there really is an Ook for every child. We are constantly creating new characters with the heavy input from our young followers to expand our colourful collection and touch on each child’s passion or hobby. The less limitations and restrictions that exist in play, the more room there is for imagination to flourish.




The lack of gender segregation and stereotyping evident in our brand gives kids the opportunity to be more autonomous and progressive; and the atmosphere that comes from this is relaxed and informal. We have seen, first hand, that this emboldens followers to communicate their thoughts and ideas more expressively. Although it is arguable that the society we are living in is more liberal than ever before, it is important to recognise and beware of the heavy influence social standards have over us and the next generation. Children are the epitome of freedom and innocence, it is vital that they are not limited in their play solely because of the standards society has put in place. We are passionate about helping children learn and develop their proficiency skills through play. For us, gender separation has no part in our goal or message. Our world is a crazy one, full of nutty locations and random individuals, but it is open and objective and allows players to create, communicate and feel listened to, regardless of gender.

To see our entire Ook family and their mad world, visit our page on Popjam where you can take part in our activities, adventures and competitions!

Image Sources

Thanks for reading! Niamh