If you’ve been to a McDonald’s at any point in the last few decades, you’re probably familiar with the toy distribution system: something pink and dainty for girls, something blue and rugged for boys. No need to specify which one you want; your perceived gender will determine the contents of your bag.
But no longer! The fast food chain is re-training its bored employees so that they will stop making assumptions based on gender. According to the company, they’ll be doing away with the “boy” and “girl” assumptions, and it’s all thanks to an irritated teenager from Connecticut.
All teens are annoyed about something, of course, but Antonia Ayres-Brown was irked by the assumption that she would have no interest in boy-toys. She was just 11 at the time, but she caused quite a fuss; yet complaining to the CEO and the state’s Human Rights Commission got her nowhere.
So she did a little research, and found that in nearly every single case, employees would distribute toys based on a kid’s perceived gender. And in almost half of the cases, they would refuse to swap it with the other toy even when asked.
After collecting data for six years (!) she sent her findings to the company, and they’ve finally responded. “It is McDonald’s intention and goal that each customer who desires a Happy Meal toy be provided the toy of his or her choice, without classification of the toy as a ‘boy’ toy or a ‘girl’ toy and without any reference to the customer’s gender,” says Chief Diversity Officer Patricia Harris.
First of all, that is quite a job title. Second of all, that is amazing. How exactly are they going to refer to the separate toys from now on, though? Is it going to be like “toy one” and “toy two”? Or are they just going to encode the genders, like “do you want to frilly toy or the powerful toy?”