Target Moves Toward Gender-Neutral Store Signage

Target is taking steps towards gender-neutral store signage.

ByABC News
August 10, 2015, 9:40 AM

— -- Target has announced it is taking a step toward gender neutrality following a social media backlash against the retail giant.

The retailer’s new goal is to defy stereotypes within its aisles after Abi Bechtel, a mother of three, tweeted a photo from inside her local Target store. The photo showed a sign for “Building Sets” and a separate sign for “Girls’ Building Sets.”

Bechtel’s June 1 tweet bearing the caption “Don’t do this @Target” was re-tweeted nearly 3,000 times.

In a statement posted Friday on its website, Target wrote that it was working to “phase out gender-based signage to help strike a better balance.”

"Over the past year, guests have raised important questions about a handful of signs in our stores that offer product suggestions based on gender," the statement read, in part. "We heard you, and we agree. Right now, our teams are working across the store to identify areas where we can phase out gender-based signage to help strike a better balance."

In an interview with ABC News, Bechtel discussed her children’s reaction to the Target signs.

“As my kids got old enough to notice that there was a distinction, my boys didn't want to go down the girly aisles,” she said. “We would have these conversations about, it's really okay for kids to play with any toys they want to.”

Target is vowing to change with the times by revamping signage in their toys, home and entertainment areas, writing, "in the kids’ bedding area, signs will no longer feature suggestions for boys or girls, just kids.”

In the toy aisles, the Minnesota-based retail chain says it will, “remove reference to gender, including the use of pink, blue, yellow or green paper on the back walls of our shelves.”

Rachel Simmons, the co-founder of Girls Leadership who writes about empowering girls and anti-bullying, called Target's move a "huge deal."

“It's a huge deal that Target is going gender-neutral because Target is a trendsetter," Simmons told ABC News. "Retailers have an incredible opportunity here."

“They're opening up a whole world of possibility for these kids," she said.

Target's move is not the first time retailers have ditched gender stereotypes.

In 2012, 13-year-old McKenna Pope urged Easy-Bake Oven to make a more gender-neutral product and it did. McKenna took the step after saying her brother, 4, wanted to play with it but he complained that it only came in colors for girls.

At the time, Hasbro, the maker of the Easy-Bake Oven, offered the toy only in purple floral print and pink.