Let Toys Be Toys


Almut Schnerring, klische*esc e.V., Germany

Almut Schnerring is a journalist, author and coach. Her book „Die Rosa-Hellblau-Falle. Für eine Kindheit ohne Rollenklischees“ ("The pink and blue trap. For a childhood without gender stereotypes") uses studies and examples to illustrate the impact of the binary world divided into pink and blue, and shows to what extent the messages of gendered marketing have become firmly established in the everyday lives of children, limiting their freedom of choice.

She gives lectures and workshops about gender-sensitive education, unconscious bias and gendered marketing. She is the first chairwoman of the non-profit association klische*esc e.V. which engages in several projects to draw the attention to the backlash of traditional gender roles in the everyday life of children. Almut is co-initiator of ‚The Golden Fence Post - a negative award that „honours" absurd gendered products or gendered marketing campaigns. In may it will be awarded in Berlin in its third year.

Almut has launched „Equal Care Day“, a a community initiative which aims to raise awareness to the fact that Gender Pay Gap and Gender Care Gap have their origins in narrow role patterns and gender hierarchy learned in early childhood. 'Equal Care Day' calls on institutions worldwide to mark an international day of action on 29 february 2020 (https://equalcareday.de/english/).


Dr. Anne-Kristin Cordes, IFP Bayern, Germany

Kristin is a researcher at the State Institute of Early Childhood Research in Munich, Germany. She received her PhD in linguistics (and psychology) from Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich. In the last ten years, Kristin conducted research on language development and second language learning in Germany and the UK and worked as an author and adviser for Noordhoff Uitgevers, the largest Dutch publisher of school textbooks. She also taught at university level. Recently, she made a move towards more applied research in order to introduce findings from fundamental research on how language is learnt into language training programmes for children as well as into professional development for educators in early childhood settings. Currently, Kristin is working on a meta-analysis to assess the value and impact of using new technology in early childhood classrooms. She is also involved in the development of a language training programme for preschool children with a need for language support using new technologies.

Elisabetta Ruspini

Elisabetta Ruspini, Universita' di Milano-Bicocca, Italy

Elisabetta Ruspini is an Associate Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology and Social Research, University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy. She holds a PhD in Sociology and Social Research from the University of Trento (1997).

She has a strong expertise in Gender Studies (both Women’s Studies and Men and Masculinity Studies), Gender Relations in Society, Sociology of Families, Generation Studies (Millennials and Gen Zers), and LGBT Studies, as wells as in gender-sensitive research and on how to strengthen the gender dimension of both social research and research programs in order to remove gender imbalances. She has functioned as a gender expert and adviser for diverse research stakeholders in Italy and Europe, and has been actively involved in developing gender approaches in Universities, Associations, NGOs, and research policy in many roles and contexts. She has published a number of books, articles and contributed papers to several national and international conferences/seminars/workshops in these fields.

Her research interests include: Social Change and Social Processes; The Social Construction of Gender; Gender Stereotypes and Gender Roles; Gender and the Generation Turnover; New Forms of Parenthood; Family Change; Family Policy; Men and Masculinities; Men who Work in ‘‘Non-traditional’’ Occupations; Gender and Sexuality; LGBT Rights and Issues; Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Discriminations; Social Inequalities; Gender and Poverty; Family Poverty; Economic Socialization; Gender and the Media; Gender and Religion; Religious Values and Beliefs across Generations; Gender and Tourism; Tourism and Generational Changes; Future Studies; The Future of Gender Studies. Within the methodological field: Longitudinal Research; How to Engender Longitudinal Research; Gender-sensitive Research.

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Elizabeth Sweet, San Jose State University, The United States

Dr. Elizabeth Sweet is a sociologist who studies gender and children’s toys. Her current research examines changes in the gender marketing and stereotyping of children’s toys over time to understand how gendered toys relate to larger issues of gender inequality. She has written on the topic of gender and toys for The Atlantic and the New York Times and her work has been featured in many national and international press outlets. In 2016, Dr. Sweet presented on her work at a White House conference on gender and children’s toys, and her research has also informed recent public policy debates in California and in Australia.  Dr. Sweet received her B.A. in sociology with top honors from Oregon State University and she earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology at the University of California, Davis. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences at San Jose State University.

Ella Smillie

Ella Smillie, ASA, The United Kingdom

Ella joined the Regulatory Policy team at the Committees of Advertising Practice in 2007 after seven years working at ISBA on membership services and media.

In 2016, she initiated and managed the ASA project on gender stereotypes in advertising which considered whether the ASA system was in the right place in its regulation.  That project collated evidence from a variety of sources and resulted in a report, published in July 2017, which concluded that some regulatory change was warranted.  The Committees of Advertising Practice, the bodies that own and write the Advertising Codes, subsequently proposed and consulted on a new rule and guidance to prevent ads from depicting harmful gender stereotypes; this will come into force on 14 June 2019.

As well as the work on gender stereotypes, Ella carries out regulatory policy work on a variety of issues including promotional marketing and alcohol, to ensure the advertising codes reflect changes in legislation and social policy.

Gary Pope

Gary Pope, Kids Industries, The United Kingdom

Co-Founder of Kids Industries, Gary began his career as a school teacher and led an English Department before becoming a learning designer for a change management consultancy. A weird gig for Disney led Gary back to children and to launch Kids Industries. Kids Industries solves problems, develops strategies, ideas and products as well as creating an awful lot of digital content for clients as diverse as Kellogg,TUI and eONE

Gary is considered a childhood expert and is invited to speak and write on the on the subject children and commerciality globally. His particular area of interest is pre-school content and its educational capabilities. Most recently in this space Gary led the team that developed the digital presence of PJ Masks, Peppa Pig and that most recently designed, branded and delivered an entire Pre-School channel for Al Jazeera with the award winning Baraem.

Gary is a school governor, dad, uncle, great uncle, Godfather and UCS LEGO collector.

foto HvS juli 2018

Henriette van Swinderen, Bond Van Adverteerders, The Netherlands

The combination of creativity and analytics inspired Henriette to choose a career in Marketing after graduating in Architectural Engineering. She held various Marketing and Communication positions at a.o. Procter & Gamble and T-Mobile and broadened her expertise while working as a strategy consultant for FMCG and service companies. Henriette is a strong believer in the power of creativity as a key element for building winning brands. She was responsible for the development of various successful campaigns winning Effie, Esprix and Advertisers SAN Awards. Henriette is currently Director of the Association of Dutch Advertisers, committed to support advertising organizations with building their brands, increasing their ROCI and promoting a transparant, creative and innovative communication eco-system.


James Millar, Gender Diary, The United Kingdom 

James Millar is a journalist, author and podcaster. Along with his partner he started the @GenderDiary Twitter account in 2011 which gave rise to the book The Gender Agenda published in 2017. In 2018 he co-authored a further book, Dads Don’t Babysit, focussed on equal parenting. He has written about gender and about politics for a number of outlets in the UK including The Sunday Post, The New Statesman, HuffPost, The Book of Man and The Daily Telegraph.



Javid Abdelmoneim, BBC2, The United Kingdom 

Born in Cambridge to Sudanese Iranian parents, Javid spent his first 7 years in Khartoum, Sudan, before returning to Cambridge for schooling.

Going to medical school at University College London, he graduated 2003 and entered training in Emergency Medicine. After completing the Diploma in Tropical Medicine & Hygiene and gaining membership of the Royal College of Physicians he joined MSF in 2009 for his first field assignment, which was to Iraq. Since then, he has worked in the field as a doctor with MSF in Haiti, Lebanon (for Syria), South Sudan, Sierra Leone (for ebola), on the Mediterranean on one of MSF’s search & rescue vessels and in Raqqa in North Syria.

Javid has also visited MSF projects in Armenia, DR Congo, France and Jordan whilst filming them in his role as a reporter for the TV health magazine show “The Cure” broadcasting on the Al Jazeera network. This series features solutions and innovations in healthcare from around the world. He is the winner of the Foreign Press Association award for best science story of the year in 2016 for the episode “Operation Gaza.” Filming for the BBC has included the Panorama Ebola Frontline special which was Emmy and BAFTA nominated, The Truth About Alcohol and The Refugee Camp: Our Desert Home. In 2018 he was BAFTA nominated for the BBC2 documentary No More Boys and Girls.

Whilst still working as a registrar in Emergency Medicine in Imperial College Heallthcare NHS Trust in London, Javid has been the President of MSF UK since May 2017.


Jo Jowers

Johanna Jowers, Let Toys Be Toys, The United Kingdom 

Johanna is a diversity and inclusion professional with expertise in UK and international gender equality policy. In 2015 she joined the Let Toys Be Toys campaign which challenges gender stereotyping in childhood. Over the last six years Let Toys Be Toys has successfully persuaded British retailers and publishers to stop explicitly labelling toys and books for boys or girls.

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Justina Raizyte, European Advertising Standards Alliance, Lithuania

Justina is an ad standards expert and the Head of Development and Policy at the European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA). She coordinates a network of the European stakeholders (including ad standard bodies, brands, media, publishers/platforms, agencies) in the area of advertising self-regulation and manages new initiatives, capacity building and dissemination of the best practices across the international network of ad industry practitioners.

Justina specialises in the digital advertising and emerging marketing techniques and policies with a focus on influencer marketing, native as well as online behavioural advertising trends. She is responsible for creating new partnerships and collaborative projects with the industry actors to continue foster responsibility, innovation, creativity and trustworthiness as the core components of the advertising ecosystem.

Her previous experience includes consulting public and private organisations on evidence-based policy making and programme management, as well as analysis and evaluations of the EU and national governments’ interventions.

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Marion Vaquero, Pépite Sexiste, France

I hold a BBA in Global Marketing from Pace University, NYC, and a MBA in International Business & Marketing from ISC Paris. I used to be an international marketing manager for a start-up. In March 2018, I launched the French account "Pépite Sexiste" on social media networks in order to raise awareness about everyday sexism and stereotypes spread by marketing and advertising industries.

Megan Perryman

Megan Perryman, Let Toys Be Toys, The United Kingdom

Megan is a founding member of Let Toys Be Toys, a campaign group who challenge gender stereotyping in childhood. Over the last six years Let Toys Be Toys have successfully persuaded British retailers and publishers to stop explicitly labelling toys and books for boys or girls. Outside of the campaign Megan is a primary school teacher with a background in local government and the charity sector.

Pascual Martinez, COFACE, 

Pascual Martinez is a Policy and Advocacy Officer at COFACE Families Europe where he deals with Employment and Gender Equality affairs. He has several years of experience in EU affairs, and has worked with different organizations and EU institutions where he has closely monitored key EU legislation pertaining to social and economic issues, especially focusing in Human Rights. He holds two Masters in International Economics and Politics, a Postgraduate Degree of the College of Europe of Bruges and an extensive training in Human Rights.


Rebecka Allén, World Federation of Advertisers, Finland

Rebecka works on food marketing policy in markets around the world, and coordinates the Responsible Advertising and Children Programme, which addresses policy issues around marketing to children. She also leads on EU consumer protection files within the policy team. She holds a Masters in Political Sciences from the Sorbonne University and worked in two leading consultancies in Brussels before joining the WFA.

Mcc0042281. The Daily Telegraph. Portrait of critic and blogger Sally Peck, photographed in the Telegraph studio, London. Tuesday September 18, 2012.

Sally Peck, The Telegraph, The United States 

Sally Peck is a senior editor at the Daily Telegraph, where she also writes about families and travel. Follow on Twitter @mathildeny

Sarah Rossmann

Sarah Rossmann, UNICEF, The United States

Sarah joined UNICEF’s Gender & Rights Team as Partnerships Manager in New York in 2017. With over 13 years of experience in international development and humanitarian disaster response, and a keen interest in leveraging technology for innovation, she is a leader in social impact. Currently, she leads UNICEF’s partnership with the Unstereotype Alliance, an initiative by UN Women and businesses to address gender stereotypes and unconscious bias in advertising. Sarah also led UNICEF’s engagement with the Cannes Young Lions Health Award in 2018. She also works with private sector partners on girls’ empowerment as part of Generation Unlimited, a global partnership launched by UNICEF to ensure that every young person is in education, training or employment by 2030.


Thea Hughes, Play Unlimited, Australia

Thea is a gender equality activist and one of the Co-Founders of Play Unlimited, a not-for-profit organisation raising awareness of the impacts of gender stereotypes on children. Thea also spearheads the ‘No Gender Stereotypes December’ campaign, highlighting the use of gender stereotypes in marketing toys to children.