Gender Myth - pink or blue

Youmanity reports on the brilliant work of BBC journalist Claudia Hammond, addressing the issue of ‘gender’ head on.

The journalist asks as to whether there is any truth to the idea that men prefer blue and women like pink? According to Claudia Hammond’s investigation colours matter far more than we would like to think.

Are girls born to grow up to prefer pink?  

An American research has found that babies, regardless of gender, are attracted to primary colours such as red and blue. Pink doesn’t feature high on the list, but is preferred to brown and grey. And, more importantly, none of the primary colours are gender-specific.

By contrast, a research conducted at Newcastle University (UK) asked adults for their favourite colour. Interestingly, the colour preferred by both men and women was blue! However women rated the reddish shades more highly than the men did.

If women evolved to prefer red, should this be a universal trait?

It seems that, no, not all women evolve to like red. A study conducted with Nabimia’s Himba people did not confirm this hypothesis.

In fact, cultural norms may have something to do with the shaping of colour preference. That is, pink is considered the appropriate colour for a baby girl and blue for a baby boy. As a consequence, babies become accustomed from birth to ‘liking’ their gender-specific colour.

This is exactly what a smart study published by the British Psychological Society pointed to in 2011. When one-year-old girls and boys were shown pairs of identical objects such as bracelets, picture frames, pill boxes, etc, but with one object pink and another of a second colour, they were no more likely to choose pink than any other colour. But after the age of two the girls started to like pink and, by four, boys were determined in their rejection of pink.

Yet it doesn’t really matter what colour babies are exposed to the most. It does matter how we respond to them depending on their gender (pink or blue), how we touch and hold them and even  how we speak to them.

For example, adults play more physical games with  blue-represented boys whilst soothing babies dressed in pink, encouraging them to play with dolls.


Gender is a highly complex topic that cannot be confined to simplistic male/female, pink/blue boxes. Society has a lot to answer for, for allowing two boring colours shape the a most important aspect of nature.


Youmanity has produced training for primary school children.




Biological components of sex differences in colour preference

The early development of gender‐stereotyped colour preferences



Join our team of friendly volunteers or, if you have a project in mind, get in touch.

We would love to hear from you


Get involved

How to help

All cash donations are invested in projects that aim to encourage a cultural dialogue between communities and countries worldwide.