When Lego announced plans to sell a new line of sets packaged in pink boxes and containing busty characters, salons and spas, girl-led activist movement SPARK launched a petition to quash the toys. Restricting train sets to boys and dress-up to girls not only reinforces outdated gender roles but also stifles creativity, said psychology professor Deborah Tolman of the Hunter College School of Social Work in New York and co-founder of SPARK.

“Kids get a lot of ideas early from play about what they can do, what they like and what they can aspire to,” Tolman said. “By making those themes gender specific, it leaves out a whole range of possibilities.”

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