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Little Girl Writes Letter To Hasbro Asking Them To Add More Girls To ‘Guess Who?’

flickr, Ben Sutherland

I remember playing the game “Guess Who?” a lot with the boys who lived next door when I was a kid (because they had the game, and we did not). And while I probably played it 500 times in my young life I never noticed the huge gender difference in the game (there are 19 male characters, and only 5 female). Luckily, there is a six-year-old girl out there in the world who did take notice of this gender imbalance, and decided to write Hasbro a strongly worded letter.

A blogger named Jennifer O’Connell, tells the story of her daughter, who is only referred to as “R___”, and her email exchange with the company on her blog. This is what “R___” had to say:

Dear Hasbro,
My name is R______. I am six years old. I think it’s not fair to only have 5 girls in Guess Who and 19 boys. It is not only boys who are important, girls are important too. If grown ups get into thinking that girls are not important they won’t give little girls much care.
Also if girls want to be a girl in Guess Who they’ll always lose against a boy, and it will be harder for them to win. I am cross about that and if you don’t fix it soon, my mum could throw Guess Who out.
My mum typed this message but I told her what to say.
The fine folks at “Ask Hasbro” promptly responded, but didn’t actually say much,
Dear R___,
Thank you for your email. Please find below an explanation which I hope your mummy will be able to explain to you.
Guess Who? is a guessing game based on a numerical equation.  If you take a look at the characters in the game, you will notice that there are five of any given characteristics.  The idea of the game is, that by process of elimination, you narrow down who it isn’t, thus determining who it is.  The game is not weighted in favour of any particular character, male or female.  Another aspect of the game is to draw attention away from using gender or ethnicity as the focal point, and to concentrate on those things that we all have in common, rather than focus on our differences.
We hope this information is of help to you.
May we thank you for contacting Hasbro and if we can be of any further assistance, either now or in the future, please do not hesitate to contact us again.
Kind Regards,
ASK HASBRO
Wow, Hasbro! That is a completely adequate response and doesn’t seem at all like you are dodging the actual questions asked of you by a child! Nope! Not at all!
So, Jennifer, being the awesome mom that she is, wrote back to them:
Dear ___,

Thanks for your prompt reply to R__. She has been anxiously watching the post box and checking with me to see if there has been a response to her email, which – I’m sure you understand – it was a very big deal to her to write.

Unfortunately, she is now no clearer as to why there are only five female characters for her to choose from in her favourite board game, compared to the 19 male characters her brother can pick. (Obviously, she could choose to be a male character, but as you know, that’s not usually how children work).

If anything, your response has left her more confused than before. She is a smart girl, but she is only 6 and still in senior infants at primary school, so she is a long way from being able to grasp concepts like numerical equations and weighting.

As a company that makes toys for children, I would have anticipated you would communicate with your youngest customers in a more direct and child-friendly way.

But I must confess that, despite being 37 years of age and educated to Masters level, I am equally at a loss.

Why is female gender regarded as a “characteristic”, while male gender is not?

Kind regards,

Jennifer O’Connell
Hasbro did write back to Jennifer again, and gave a much more satisfactory answer to R___’s concerns.
We agree that girls are equally as important as boys and want both boys and girls to have fun playing our games… We love your suggestion of adding more female characters to the game and we are certainly considering it for the future.
They even included a link to where Jennifer and R___ could go to print out more game pieces (with an equal number of male and female characters).

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