What are Diversity Dolls?
Diversity Dolls are dolls that are specially designed to present social diversity and equity issues to children in two ways:
- First, they vary in physical characteristics such as skin tone, hair texture and colour and so can physically represent diverse gender and race characteristics.
- Second, each doll has its own ‘persona’: a life history that details its ‘race’, ethnicity, family culture, gender, special interests in stories about the doll. The dolls are used to enhance children’s connection to the stories and elicit their understandings of the social diversity and equity issues being raised through the doll’s stories.
Prejudice often gets in the way of people living together equitably. Learning to see and work with young children’s prejudices and biases is critical in working for equity in the 21st century. This website explores how Diversity Dolls can be used as a starting point for equity education with young children.
The origins of Diversity Dolls
Diversity Dolls have their origins in the work of USA early childhood educator Kay Taus. Kay developed what she called Anti-Bias Persona Dolls in the late 1980s. Kay was a member of the Anti-Bias Task Force that developed the Anti-Bias Curriculum (Derman-Sparks et al, 1989).
In 1998 members of the Centre for Equity and Innovation in Early Childhood (now the Equity and Childhood Program ) Glenda Mac Naughton, Heather Lawrence and Karina Davis drew on the work of Kay Taus and the Anti-Bias Task Force to develop the Diversity Dolls and the began to research the dolls and their use in Anti-Bias work with young children.
Diversity Dolls help children
- Experience, think about, enjoy & champion diversity
- Share their thinking about cultural & social diversity
- Learn about the diversity of others
- Problem-solve what’s fair & not fair.
Diversity Dolls help teachers
- Critically reflect on what’s fair & not fair with the classroom and the world
- Be activists for equity and social justice.
- Srinivasan, P., & Cruz, M. (2014). Children colouring: speaking 'colour difference' with Diversity dolls. Pedagogy, Culture & Society, 23(1), 21-43.
- Smith, C. (2008). A reflection on my practice of anti oppression work with Persona Dolls in South Africa. International Journal of Equity and Innovation in Early Childhood, 6(1), 94-99.
- Md Nor, M. (2005). Persona dolls: 'The lawful and the prohibited' vs educational value. International Journal of Equity and Innovation in Early Childhood, 3(1), 61-64.
- Md Nor, M. (2004). Persona Dolls: Lawful or Prohibited? Members' Briefing Paper, 3(4). Melbourne, Australia: Centre for Equity and Innovation in Early Childhood, University of Melbourne.
- Brown, B. (2001). Combating Discrimination: Persona Dolls in Action. London: Trentham Books.
- Dau, E. (Ed). (2001). The Anti-Bias Approach in Early Childhood (2nd Ed). Sydney: Prentice Hall.
- MacNaughton, G. (2001). Blushes and birthday parties: telling silences in young children's constructions of 'race'. Journal for Australian Research in Early Childhood Education, 8(1), 41-51.
- MacNaughton, G. (2001). Silences and subtexts in immigrant and non-immigrant's children's understandings of diversity. Childhood Education, 78(1),30-36.
- MacNaughton, G. (2001). Dolls for equity: foregrounding children's voices in learning respect and unlearning unfairness. New Zealand Council for Educational Research Early Childhood Folio, 27-30.
- MacNaughton, G., & Davis, K. (2001). Beyond 'othering': Rethinking Approaches to Teaching Young Anglo-Australian Children about Indigenous Australians. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 2(1), 83-93.
- Dowell, C. (Ed) (1996). Looking In, Looking Out: Redefining Child Care and Early Education in a Diverse Society. California: A California Tomorrow Publication.
- Equity Adventures: Teaching & Learning for Equity in Early Childhood CD-ROM.
Learn how to use the dolls in hands-on training using sound diversity principles to build histories and stories for the dolls.
To register your interest to attend Diversity Doll Training, or if you would like to negotiate a Professional Development package specific to your organisation or group needs, please contact the Youth Research Centre.
What does the Diversity Doll Training Day involve?
Diversity Doll Training Day covers the following:
Introducing the dolls
- What are Diversity Dolls?
- Using Diversity Dolls to work for equity and fairness with young children
Developing the persona for your Diversity Doll
- The Stages Storytelling for equity
- Creating the atmosphere for story telling and respectful discussions
- Creating a time for story telling and respectful discussions
Using the doll
- Evaluating the learning
- Dilemmas on the journey
- Embedding the stories in a process of change for equity
- Learning from Diversity Doll research
Using the DIVERSITY DOLL LOGBOOK
- Equity Tools for evaluating the Doll's persona and your stories
- Key readings around Diversity Dolls.
When is the next Diversity Doll Training Day and how can I register?
To register your interest to attend Diversity Doll Training please contact the Youth Research Centre.
Why do we have an ethical protocol?
The ethical protocol has been developed to ensure that the dolls are used respectfully, with care and for the social justice purposes that they were designed. The ethical protocol has been developed to ensure that the Diversity Dolls are used in ways that are consistent with what was learnt through the research about how best to discuss complex issues of diversity, discrimination and equity with young children. Specifically, it is intended to ensure that the dolls are used respectfully and appropriately with young children in ways that draw on the research and that are consistent with an anti-bias or anti-discriminatory approach to issues of diversity, discrimination and equity.
Where can I buy a Doll?
Unfortunately, we are no longer able to supply dolls. There are several organisations that can provide dolls. We suggest doing an internet search to find a supplier nearest to you.