Gender Roles

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The Effects of Gender Roles in Early Childhood Development
Kamille Culpepper
Kennesaw State University

Abstract
Childhood development is one of the most influential times in a person’s life. At an early age a person’s brain is at its peak of learning. So everything that is taught during this time will affect the person’s life and our society. One thing that is implicated is gender roles. Gender roles are the overt expression of attitudes that indicate to others the degree of one’s masculinity or femininity. Gender roles are based on two categories which all people do not fit in. So children are often affected by these roles due to the bias and lack of understanding. Also gender roles affect the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, and Transgender (LGBT) society by making them outcasts due to the sexist rules gender roles implicate.

The Effects of Gender Roles in Early Childhood Development
In early childhood development gender roles and gender stereotyping are a part of a child’s everyday life. Anthropology, Sociology, and Psychology indicate that children play an important role in developing gender beliefs and determining gender behavior based on Lamb, Bigler, Liben and Greens research in Teaching Children to Confront Peers’ Sexist Remarks: Implications for theories of Gender Development and Educational Practice. Lamb et al. (2009) suggests that children often pressure their peers to adapt to these traditional gender roles. Also Children will use verbal and nonverbal behaviors to influence their peers’ gender role development. For example, children instruct peers about the content of cultural gender stereotypes, exclude peers on the basis of gender, tease peers concerning violations of gender norms and in extreme cases, harass and physically attack peers who are gender atypical. In our society we encourage a strict adherence to traditional gender roles. For example girls are taught to be gentle and polite as well as to cook, clean, and be an overall caregiver. In addition, boys are taught to be tough, play sports, and be physically and emotionally strong. These are traditional roles; it may vary depending on how a child is raised. The strong belief in gender stereotypes can often produce a dysfunctional outcome for an atypical gender role Lamb et al. (2009) suggests (p.2). Lamb et al. (2009) stated that children with an atypical gender role are often pressured to conform to normal gender roles which can cause psychological distress and low self-esteem. Gender roles are often seen as what is right and what is wrong. If a boy seen playing with dolls or wearing a “girly” color, the child will seldom question his role. Gender roles are cultural and personal. They determine how males and females should think, speak, dress, and interact within the context of society. Learning plays a role in this process of shaping gender roles. These gender schemas are deeply embedded cognitive frameworks regarding what defines masculine and feminine. While various socializing agents—parents, teachers, peers, movies, television, music, books, and religion—teach and reinforce gender roles throughout the lifespan, parents and peers probably exert the greatest influence, especially on their very young offspring. Gender roles in early childhood development is a pressing problem, it differentiates boys from girls at a young age where there brain development is at its peak (Nadia, 2010, p.1). In early childhood, children are learning and internalizing large amounts of knowledge every day. By age 4, for instance, the cortex begins operating at adult activity levels. A 4-year-old child is more than twice as active as an adult's. According to Harold Chungai, head of the PET Center at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan, the brain continues to consume glucose at a feverish pace through age 10 and then slows down by age 16, when it levels off at adult values (Nadia, 2010, p.1). Since studies show that this is the most active time for a human brain,...
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