Thursday, June 16, 2011

Gender Stereotyping

By Vandola Brown

Do you realize where many of your thoughts and beliefs  may have came from? We live in a society where there is a wide spread of gender stereotype and children often learn roles that are not always fair to both sexes. As children grow and develop, the gender stereotype they are exposed to, mostly at home, are reinforced by the child’s peers, school experiences, and television viewing  and are carried over from childhood throughout adulthood. It is difficult for a child to grow to adulthood without experiencing some form of gender bias or stereotyping, whether it is the expectation that boys are better than girls in math or the idea that females can nurture children.

Children learn at an early age what it is to be a female or a male. This exposure comes from the parents. From the time their children are babies, parents treat sons and daughter different , dressing infants in gender specific colors, giving gender differential toys, and expecting different behavior from boys and girls. Parents encourage their boys and girls to participate in sex-type activities including playing with dolls and engaging in  housekeeping activities; while boys plays with trucks, engage in blocks and sport activities. Both mothers and fathers may contribute to the gender stereotyping of their children , but I think father tend to reinforce gender stereotyping more often than mothers.
As a preschool teacher, I experience a father who contributed to gender stereotyping.. When little Johnny’s father came to pick him up, he saw that Johnny was in the housekeeping area with best friend Amy dressing the dolls. When he approached Johnny he said,” Boy, you are not a faggot and stop playing with those girls toys. Men don’t play with dolls.” I than asked Johnny’s father if he had a moment to talk. When he answered yes, I discussed the different skills Johnny was learning and developing while in the housekeeping area. Skills such as social, one he will definitely need to grow become a man in our society. Children should  be able to make choices without being hindered by stereotyping. When the conversation was over, Johnny’s father thank me. He said ,” I never gave it a second thought that I could be hindering my child instead of helping him. Suppose his talent is to became a great chef one day. I guess my father didn’t understand it either.” Gender stereotyping can go from generation to generation.



  1. Sandra FelicianoJune 17, 2011 at 9:59 AM

    This was a great post and I agree with you that father's seem to be more strict with gender roles and especially with boys. I have three boys and I teach them to clean, do laundry, and cook. It's not teaching them "girl" stuff, it's teaching them life skills which many people overlook. I think it's up to the parents to be more accepting of their children exploring things so the kids will feel comfortable to be themselves. Especially for boys because they are more scrutinized in society for gender norms and roles.

  2. Fatoumata NdiayeJune 17, 2011 at 2:24 PM

    People are more concerned with how others perceive them than with being authentic. The media and people's expectations create arbitrary norms for masculinity and feminity. Individuals feel they have to conform to these norms or be taught different.

  3. There shouldn't be a such thing as gender stereotyping, of course. While teaching a child what certain responsibilities can sometimes be a good thing, it can have very bad effects on a child's mind later in life if taken too far. The child may grow up confident that his or hers beliefs are correct. But that child could be in for a rude awakening once they learn that everything that society says that gender should or shouldn't do is wrong.

  4. Great post. I liked the example from the preschool you gave, and how you used functionalism to argue against gender stereotypes. It would be interesting to know if kids, raised by parents who encouraged extreme gender neutrality, may be affected, positively or negatively.