Teen Amazingly Convinces McDonald’s To Stop Offering ‘Girls’ And ‘Boys’ Toys
When Antonia Ayers-Brown was 11-years-old, she wrote a letter to the CEO of McDonald’s to “ask him to change the way his stores sold Happy Meals.” She was frustrated after hearing “do you want a boy toy or a girl toy” endlessly, and decided to do something about it. She told him asking the gender of children receiving toys was akin to asking at a job interview “whether someone wanted a man’s job or a woman’s job.” She wasn’t satisfied with their response.
They said they didn’t train their employees to ask whether Happy Meal customers want boys’ or girls’ toys, and her experiences were not the norm. My very scientific research of my own experiences and the experiences of the two other mothers I asked today proves that McDonald’s is full of it. Their employees always ask. Always.
I guess we might be able to assume that people as a whole are just totally brainwashed when it comes to gender roles and that every, single employee they have ever had takes it upon themselves to ask. Ayers-Brown was unsatisfied with the response, so she began visiting McDonald’s randomly to further collect data: “Despite our evidence showing that, in our test, McDonald’s employees described the toys in gendered terms more than 79 percent of the time, the commission dismissed our allegations as “absurd” and solely for the purposes of “titilation [sic] and sociological experimentation.”
She still refused to back down. Last summer, in a series of 30 visits she recorded some more data:
…we sent boys and girls, ages 7-11, into 15 McDonald’s stores to independently order a Happy Meal at the counter. We found that 92.9 percent of the time, the store, without asking, simply gave each child the toy that McDonald’s had designated for that child’s gender—a Justice fashion toy for girls and a Power Rangers toy for boys. What’s worse was the trouble the children encountered when they immediately returned to the counter and asked to exchange their unopened toy: 42.8 percent of stores refused to exchange for an opposite-sex toy.
She wrote to the CEO again, explaining her experience with the offering of toys and this time she got a much better response:
On Dec. 17, I received an amazing letter back from McDonald’s chief diversity officer, Patricia Harris, saying, “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 any classification of the toy as a ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ toy and without any reference to the customer’s gender. We have recently reexamined our internal guidelines, communications and practices and are making improvements to better ensure that our toys are distributed consistent with our policy.”
Because one teenager refused to back down, McDonald’s will now train employees to simply offer the name of the toy, not refer to them as “girls” or “boys” toys. Some may think, “What is the big deal?” I totally agree. It’s not a big deal. Which is why McDonald’s should have no problem training their employees the right way – the way in which they don’t make assumptions about what kids like based on their genders.
Good work, Antonia.