Children become social beings through the process of socialization. Through this process humans are taught their social rules. Learning social roles come through a complex array of agents and factors. These include the family, the media, formal education, toys, and peers. While some of media for socialization are formal, others are informal. Humans are innately sexual beings, and sexuality is an important medium through which a lot of life’s processes are expressed, and even human life finds its continuity through sexual expression. We learn, from the time of early childhood, the basic concepts of these expressions through a process called gender socialization. There are several social groups responsible for gender socialization, called agents of socialization. Some primary agents of socialization include; parents, schools, toys, peers, and the mass media. In this paper I will examine these agents and how they are employed on children and adolescents. We will first take a look at a child’s first lessons in gender socialization. A child's earliest exposure to what it means to be male or female comes from parents (Lauer & Lauer, 1994; Santrock, 1994; Kaplan, 1991). From the time their children are babies, parents treat sons and daughters differently, dressing infants in gender-specific colors, giving gender-differentiated toys, and expecting different behavior from boys and girls (Thorne, 1993). One study indicates that parents have differential expectations of sons and daughters as early as 24 hours after birth (Rubin, Provenzano, & Luria, 1974). Children internalize parental messages regarding gender at an early age, with awareness of adult sex role differences being found in two-year-old children (Weinraub et al., 1984). One study found that children at two and a half years of age use gender stereotypes in negotiating their world and are likely to generalize gender stereotypes to a variety of activities, objects, and occupations (Fagot, Leinbach, & O'Boyle, 1992; Cowan & Hoffman, 1986). Children even deny the reality of what they are seeing when it does not conform to their gender expectations (i.e., a child whose mother is a doctor stating that only men are doctors) (Sheldon, 1990). Parents encourage their sons and daughters to participate in sex-typed activities, including doll playing and engaging in housekeeping activities for girls and playing with trucks and engaging in sports activities for boys (Eccles, Jacobs, & Harold, 1990). Children's toy preferences have been found to be significantly related to parental sex-typing (Etaugh & Liss, 1992; Henshaw, Kelly, & Gratton, 1992; Paretti & Sydney, 1984), with parents providing gender-differentiated toys and rewarding play behavior that is gender stereotyped (Carter, 1987). While both mothers and fathers contribute to the gender stereotyping of their children, fathers have been found to reinforce gender stereotypes more often than do mothers (Ruble, 1988).(1) It is my belief that such practices by parents are at the root of the so-called “male chauvinism”. This concept, while still alive, is not as rampant as it once was. Our text states that:
From daycare through high school, schools present a hidden curriculum that informally teaches girls to value compliance (Orenstein, 1994). School textbooks and readers often have stories of boys and young men as main characters, relegating girls and young women to the sidelines or showing them in a limited number of roles or occupations (Etaugh, 2003). So, as an agent of socialization, schools have historically undermined the confidence of females. This starts very early, as early as pre-school. One source has the following to contribute; Picture books often provide very young children with some of their earliest perceptions of gender, race, and class--creating a stockpile of images for "children's mental museums." And since they are read by those held in high regard (i.e., parents and teachers), these perceptions make...
References: 1.Witt, S. D. (1997). Parental influence on children 's socialization to gender roles. Adolescence, 32(126), 253-9.
2.Knesz-Greulich, F. (2007). How young children learn about gender: The influence of parents and peers. (Order No. 3278620, New York University). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, , 127-n/a. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/304844233?accountid=27966. (304844233).
3.Pinias, C., & Sharon, M. V. (2013). Gender stereotyping and female pupils ' perception of studying advanced level sciences: A survey of one province in zimbabwe. Gender & Behaviour, 11(1), 5285-5296.
4. Knesz-Greulich, F. (2007). How young children learn about gender: The influence of parents and peers. (Order No. 3278620, New York University). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, , 127-n/a. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/304844233?accountid=27966. (304844233).
5., L. B. (2000, Feb 14). Why girls and boys get different toys --- `Gender-neutral ' is out, as more kids ' marketers pitch single-sex products. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/398875763?accountid=27966
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