Breaking Down Gender Stereotypes at The White House
Back in April 2016, Michael (CEO of URSTRONG) and Dana (Founder) had the great honour of being invited by Jess Weiner to attend an exclusive conference at The White House. With only 150 people invited, they were part of a global conversation to help break down gender stereotypes for children.
As described by Valerie Jarratt, Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President, “Experts will present the latest research on children’s media and toys – and we’ll hear about best practices from companies that are doing some of the most creative, innovative, and successful work to create products and media that encourage all children to explore, learn, and dream without limits.”
Michael & Dana shared the work that URSTRONG had been doing in schools around the world, empowering children with friendship skills. In their conversations with world leaders, they shared a very strong belief that friendship skills are the key to a kinder, more equitable future. Friendship skills are relationship skills and they shared how their program teaches children to celebrate and honour diversity, deepen connections, and strengthen empathy. Children also learn how to have a voice, but respect the voices of others – the foundation of a healthy community where everyone feels they belong.
Throughout the day, the leading toy manufacturing companies in the world (Disney, LEGO, Mattel, Hasboro, among others) spoke about how they are working towards a future where “girls toys” and “boys toys” become a thing of the past. They were especially fascinated by LEGO’s experience with parents projecting their own stereotypes onto children during their research on the LEGO Friends Heartlake Cafe – reminding everyone that LEGO has always been a toy for ALL children. Michael & Dana also sat next to the team at Mattel, who shared their exciting plans at Barbie, including the development of an Inclusive Doll.
After leaving this conference, Michael & Dana decided to rebrand GirlPower & GoodGuys to URSTRONG. Like these companies, they acknowledged that boys and girls are more the same than they are different – especially when it comes to friendship.