Blue Ridge Community College
Gender Stereotyping in Children
Delaying exposure to gender stereotyping in young children helps avoid disapproving gender views that limit children’s behavior and learning abilities, which plays a vital role in their social and cognitive development. I.Beliefs and Behaviors
a.Emergence of gender identity
Children who hold a flexible gender view of what boys and girls can do tend to see the world in a less gender biased fashion and increases their social and cognitive development, which helps prepare them for entering society.
Gender Stereotyping in Children
Parents play the role of nurturing their children and preparing them for society, and somewhere in between they have unintentionally introduced their children to gender stereotyping (beliefs and behaviors acceptable for girls and boys). As children grow they start to learn gender typing on their own through biological and environmental influences. Then through observation children develop their own identity towards male or female, and they start to organize their experiences through gender schemas. This is how children start to interpret what’s happening in their world. Piaget’s cognitive development theory and Bandura’s social learning theory explain how children learn through modeling and actively constructing knowledge as they manipulate and explore the world. So, parents should try to reduce or delay gender stereotyping to allow their children the opportunity to learn without restrictions.
Before children can fully understand their own gender, they have been subtly introduced to society’s views of what is correct for beliefs and behaviors for boys and girls. By 18 months they can associate things with men, but they are still unsure of association with woman; this changes between 24-30 months because now they understand and use words that categorize male and female. Then by preschool, children start to associate items, toys, clothing, jobs and behavior with gender and in doing so it affects their play and personality preferences. With this in mind, children are now set in their gender stereotypes and feel they should not violate the guidelines by playing with someone that is different than them; they feel these guidelines have no flexibility for such violations. They are having a hard time comprehending boys and girls are different, but they can be alike in other ways (Berk 390-391). Biological influences on gender deals with the sex-type and hormones of humans with females having a 23rd pair with two x-shaped chromosomes and a male having a 23rd pair with an x chromosome and a y chromosome. With hormones females produce estrogen and males produce androgens. With this in mind, Maccoby argues, “that sex hormones (…) affect human play styles, leading to rough, noisy movements among boys and calm, gentle actions among girls ( Berk 391). When peer interaction occurs, children pick someone that has the same actions as themselves. Girls choose to stay with one-on-one play and boys like to interact with groups (Berk 391). Environmental influences on gender deals with parents, teachers and peer interaction. Children can distinguish between boy and girl at an early age. “Through a myriad of activities, opportunities, encouragements, discouragements, over behavior, covert suggestions and various form of guidance, children experience the process of gender role socialization” (Witt 1). Children will be exposed to “some form of gender bias or stereotyping” at some point or another during their lifetime (Witt 1). It may be in the form of boys being better at some academic than girls or girls being better at nurturing than boys. When the development of the child proceeds and...