President Obama’s senior adviser Valerie Jarrett is calling on a group of business leaders and educators to move the world away from “gender biases” in media and toys.
“We know so many of our young children have those biases and it’s our collective responsibility to try to change the culture, and changing culture is not necessarily easy and it doesn’t happen overnight,” she said.
Jarrett opened up a White House conference this morning dedicated to the issue of breaking down gender stereotypes in media and toys, citing her own experience as a mother.
During her speech, she recalled a time when she struggled to find Halloween costumes or birthday presents for her daughter.
“There weren’t a lot of alternatives that were gender neutral, or who encouraged my daughter to dream and think of herself not just as a little girl in a pretty dress … but to really convince her that she had, and shaped her future to understand that she had infinite possibilities that lie ahead,” she said.
Jarrett added that she also liked pretty dresses and that “there was nothing wrong with them,” but suggested that media and toys needed to go beyond that.
She warned that the highest paying and fastest growing industries in the world were also the ones that were the most “gender segregated.” She also emphasized that toys and media helped mold children’s imaginations in how they viewed themselves, which is why more companies needed to make more commitments to raise awareness about the problem.
“I want all of our girls to get interested in science and technology and engineering and math,” she said. “And I want our boys to think about teaching in our schools and help shaping the next generation of our young people.”