Why Does Gender Matter by cathynelsonsigan1


									Why Does Gender Matter?
Counteracting Stereotypes
With Young Children
How do young children’s experiences with gender biases affect their                      Olaiya E. Aina and
development and opportunities for leading successful lives? What can                     Petronella A. Cameron
teachers do to counteract these stereotypes?

                                                                 reotypes, which they apply to themselves and others, in
   Despite current applause for gender equality,                 an attempt to give meaning to and gain understanding
   children seem to be as stereotypically sex-typed              about their own identity.
   as those of yesteryear.
                                                                   These stereotypes are fairly well developed by 5 years of
                                 —Joannie M. Schrof              age, and become rigidly defined between 5 and 7 years
   Stereotypes abound in any society. One way that               of age (Martin & Ruble, 2004), making the preschool
people in diverse societies try to tolerate differences is       years a critical period to deal with gender stereotypes.
to make generalizations that categorize individuals into         Stereotypes and sexism limit potential growth and devel-
groups (Keefe, Marshall, & Robeson, 2003). Some of               opment (Narahara, 1998) because internalizing negative
these stereotypes are negative, while others are positive. All   stereotypes impacts self-esteem and ultimately, academic
stereotypes contribute to a culture of prejudice, which is       performance. Long-term gender bias effects become
communicated in word and action to families, communi-            most apparent in students during adolescence (Carlson,
ties, and even young children (Derman-Sparks, 2001).             Egeland, & Sroufe, 2004).
  The early gender bias experiences that children                  Preschool educators can help children develop a
encounter can shape their                                        positive sense of their own gender. Teachers who are
  •	 attitudes and beliefs related to their development          familiar with the factors that influence gender identity
     of interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships,           and stereotype development, and who understand the
                                                                 child’s active role in gender identity formation, can more
  •	 access to education equality,
                                                                 effectively counteract and even neutralize gender bias in
  •	 participation in the corporate work world, as well as       their classrooms and attempt to prevent the formation of
  •	 stifling their physical and psychological well being        children’s gender stereotypes (Zaman, 2007).
     (Hendrix & Wei, 2009).
  For early childhood educators, being aware of the ef-          Gender Development Theories
fects of gender stereotypes is particularly critical, because
concepts of gender identity are sometimes placed on                 Kohlberg (as cited in Martin & Ruble, 2004) was one
children even before their birth, with the selection of          of the first theorists to address gender as a learned, cogni-
paint colors for the nursery, for example. Children begin        tive concept. His thinking was influenced by Piaget, who
to form concepts of gender beginning around age 2, and           portrayed children as active learners who use interactions
most children know if they are a boy or girl by the age of       with their environment to construct an understanding of
3 (Martin & Ruble, 2004).                                        the world around them (Piaget, 1961). Kohlberg be-
  Between the ages of 3 and 5 years, children develop            lieved that children’s cognitive understanding of gender
their gender identity and begin to understand what it            influenced their behavior (Kohlberg, 1981).
means to be male or female. Almost immediately after               These early ideas have been supported by research. In one
becoming gender aware, children begin developing ste-            study, children were asked questions about traditional and

Dimensions of Early Childhood                                                                          Vol 39, No 3, 2011   11
                          Why Does Gender Matter? Counteracting Stereotypes With Young Children

                                                                                                   label themselves as a boy or girl,
                                                                                                   their preferences for gender-typed
                                                                                                   play activities and materials begins
                                                                                                   (Freeman, 2007). This demonstrates
                                                                                                   the link between play and gender
                                                                                                   identity formation.
                                                                                                     For Vygotsky (1961), imitation
                                                                                                   and instruction are vital compo-
                                                                                                   nents to children’s development.
                                                                                                   Adults promote this learning by
                                                                                                   role-modeling behavior, assisting
                                                                                                   with challenging tasks, and passing
                                                                                                   along cultural meanings to objects
                                                                                                   and events, all of which are compo-
                                                                                                   nents of gender development.

                                                                                                   Influences on Gender Identity
                                                                                                   and Stereotypes
                                                                                                   Popular culture
                                                                                                     Gender stereotypes are pervasive in
                                                                                                   the media and popular culture (Salt-
                                                                                                   marsh, 2009). Consumer products
                                                                                                   inundate children with gender-typed
                                                                                                   messages on bed sheets, towels, ban-
                                                                                                   dages, clothes, school supplies, toys,
                                                                                                   and furniture (Freeman, 2007). Not
                                                                                                   only are these products marketed for
                                                                                                   specific genders, but they are mer-
                                                                                                   chandised in stores by gender, creat-
                                                                                                   ing segregated pink and blue aisles
                                                                           Subjects & Predicates

                                                                                                   for shopping.
                                                                                                     Media portrayals also reinforce ste-
                                                                                                   reotypes. Advertising about comput-
                                                                                                   ers typically depicted men and boys
                                                                                                   as competent users, engaged in active
Stereotypes and sexism limit potential growth and development because internalizing
                                                                                                   or professional roles, while women
negative stereotypes impacts self-esteem and ultimately, academic performance.
                                                                                                   and girls were passive observers or
                                                                                                   merely posed next to the computer
non-traditional images of women             (Martin & Ruble, 2004), which
                                                                                                   while looking pretty or provocative
as portrayed in books. Children as          involves the creation of organized
                                                                                                   (McNair, Kirova-Petrova, & Bhar-
young as 5 were able to use outside         structures of knowledge that influ-
                                                                                                   gava, 2001). In several European
knowledge or assumptions to recon-          ence thinking and behavior.
                                                                                                   countries, television advertising
cile ideas that conflicted with their         An alternative, but supplemen-                       to children is restricted or banned
world view (Jackson, 2007). They            tal view of gender development, is                     (Mitchener, 2001).
rationalized and used “probably”            that of gender as a social construct.
statements to explain how they came                                                                  Movies convey particularly pow-
                                            Through imaginative play, children
to their conclusions, with or without                                                              erful messages about gender roles
                                            explore and understand gender
the use of stereotypes. This research                                                              and stereotyping (Derman-Sparks,
                                            roles (Chick, Heilman-Houser, &
supports Gender-Schema Theory                                                                      2001). Considering the brand
                                            Hunter, 2002). After children can

12   Vol 39, No 3, 2011                                                                               Dimensions of Early Childhood
                         Why Does Gender Matter? Counteracting Stereotypes With Young Children

strength and saturation of a mul-        understand important social issues,     children that are neither gender-fair
timedia company such as Disney,          such as those of gender, but also       nor gender-congruent (Hyun, 2001).
children are particularly susceptible.   what they think about themselves          Males demand and receive more
  Researchers examined the influ-        and others. Korean immigrant girls      attention from their teachers and
ence of Disney images of women and       perceived that a woman could not        therefore receive more specific,
marriage on the perceptions of young     be President of the United States       instructive feedback from teach-
Korean immigrant girls. These girls      because a classroom poster depicted     ers (Erden & Wolfgang, 2004). In
reported a resigned acceptance to the    all male presidents (Lee, 2008).        comparison, females become less
portrayal of princesses having to face                                           demanding of the teacher’s atten-
external obstacles to marriage, such as                                          tion; that results in lower levels of
family approval or laws, while princes       Teachers have                       achievement and self-esteem, which
could marry according to their own
will (Lee, 2008). These researchers
                                               tremendous                        therefore limits their career goals
                                                                                 to more traditional, nurturing, and
also noted that the girls associated       influence on ideas                    often lower-paying careers. Males do
desirability for a princess with one                                             not escape the gender bias, however,
attribute, such as beauty or a singing       about gender                        as they are subject to conforming to
voice, whereas princes were desired
for their courage, chivalry, or actions
                                              significance.                      male stereotypes and experience less
                                                                                 nurturing behavior (Zaman, 2007).
(Lee, 2008). Combined with a tradi-                                                Every day, teaching may occur in
tion of female subservience in Korean     Teachers have tremendous influ-        curriculum areas where positive or
culture, these young girls appeared to ence on how children develop ideas        negative stereotypes can affect chil-
accept their disenfranchisement.        of gender and gender significance.       dren’s concepts of self-competence
Early childhood education               Traditional caregivers typically         (Ebach, et al., 2009). One study found
  The role of schools has become        reinforced gender- stereotyped traits    that 80% of the observed teachers
more prominent in the lives of          when they praised girls for their        discouraged preschool girls from using
children younger than 5 years of age clothing, hairstyles, neatness, and         computers by their words and attitudes
(Sales, Spjeldnes, & Koeshe, 2010).     helping behaviors, and in contrast       (McNair, Kirova-Petrova, & Bhargava,
Many children spend up to 10 hours praised boys for their strength, physi-       2001). This stereotyping may contrib-
a day in child care (Grafwallner,       cal skill, size, and academic accom-     ute to young girls’ inabilities to be-
Fontaine, Torre, & Underhill, 2006). plishments (Chick, Heilman-Houser           come competent users of technology.
Two main aspects of the early child- & Hunter, 2002). These teachers              Friends
hood environment influence percep- used “honey” and “sweetie” to ad-               Children also have been shown
tions of young children’s gender and dress girls, but said “you guys” when       to actively create gender identities
gender stereotypes:                     speaking to the entire class (Chick,
                                        Heilman-Houser & Hunter, 2002).          through interactions with each other
  •	 classroom materials and                                                     (Thorne, 1993). Friendship pat-
  •	 the instruction of teachers          While unintentional, a teacher’s       terns and peer pressure contribute
       (Gee & Gee, 2005).               inherent biases can perpetuate un-       to gender stereotypes, especially
                                        fair stereotypes and may be mani-        among boys, who have the tendency
  Several gender inequities were        fested in discriminatory classroom
found in one preschool, the most                                                 to self-police peers, ridiculing those
                                        practices. For example, one group        who show feminine traits (Morrow,
obvious being the proliferation of      of teachers perceived girls as passive
gender-typed toys, such as pink                                                  2006). Children’s gender-typed toy
                                        learners and therefore more “teach-      preferences are more likely to be
kitchen sets. Further scrutiny re-      able” than boys (Erden & Wolf-
vealed a large proportion of books                                               exhibited when in the proximity of
                                        gang, 2004). Similarly, classroom        peers who approve of the gender-
in the library that showed gender       management techniques may re-
bias of some kind (Chick, Heilman- ward obedience versus assertiveness,          typed choices (Hughes, 2003).
Houser, & Hunter, 2002).                which puts highly active children        Family
  The classroom environment can         at a disadvantage. A teacher’s stereo-     In addition to role modeling,
affect not only how young children      types may lead to interactions with      families influence gender learning

Dimensions of Early Childhood                                                                     Vol 39, No 3, 2011   13
                           Why Does Gender Matter? Counteracting Stereotypes With Young Children

when they reinforce or discourage
specific behaviors, particularly in
play. Leaper (2000) found that
  •	 Mothers were more likely than
     fathers to encourage collabora-
     tive play with both sons and
  •	 Mothers favored affiliative play
     with daughters, that is, they
     encouraged interactions that
     were warm, supportive, and
  •	 Fathers were more likely than
     mothers to react negatively
     to cross-gender behavior,
     especially with sons.
  Teachers can communicate with
families and children about their
experiences, thoughts, and behaviors
and provide resources in the com-
munity and schools to assist them in
developing healthy gender attitudes
(Spjeldnes, Koeshe, & Sales, 2010).
  Storytelling is another way that
families influence how children

                                                                                                                            Subjects & Predicates
learn about gender. Storytelling can
familiarize children with valued traits
and personal characteristics. Fiese
and Skillman (2000) reported several
storytelling patterns that can lead
children to develop gender-typed
traits and values:                          Communicate with families and children about their experiences, thoughts, and
                                            behaviors. Provide resources in the community to assist families to develop healthy
  •	 Sons were more likely to be            gender attitudes.
     told stories of autonomy and
     achievement.                         stream culture (Robeson, Marshall,             cal readers, books and their illustra-
  •	 Daughters were more likely to        & Keefe, 1999). For example, the               tions become a cultural resource
     be told stories of relationships     Asian cultural emphasis on the value           for children to learn social norms
     or support.                          of sons can be communicated in subtle          (Jackson, 2007).
  •	 Fathers more often told stories      or not-so-subtle ways that influence
     of mastery and success.                                                               In a study of Newberry and Calde-
                                          daughters’ self-concepts of value and          cott award-winning books, male
  •	 Mothers’ stories were usually a      worth as girls (Morrow, 2006).
     direct expression of emotion.                                                       protagonists outnumbered female
                                          Children’s literature                          ones three to one, and 21 out of 25
  Family culture and ethnicity also         Books have a tremendous influ-               books contained images of women
influences children’s perceptions         ence on young children (Narahara,              wearing aprons (Narahara, 1998).
of gender. The cultural biases of         1998). The main characters provide             These books also contained no
different ethnic groups may expose        role models and definitions of mas-            Latino or African American main
children to more deeply ingrained         culinity and femininity for children.          characters. Narahara indicated that it
stereotypes than exist in the main-       Because children are active and criti-         could be assumed that children will

14    Vol 39, No 3, 2011                                                                    Dimensions of Early Childhood
                           Why Does Gender Matter? Counteracting Stereotypes With Young Children

undervalue the importance of their            time in housekeeping and only 2%                                     •	 When asked, 64% of parents
lives if they are unable to identify          in the block area. By combining the                                     said they would buy their son a
with characters in books. Images or           spaces and creating a gender-neutral                                    doll, 84% would not get upset
characters in books can create posi-          play area, the researchers observed an                                  seeing their son wearing a
tive or negative emotions in young            8% increase in housekeeping play by                                     dress in the dramatic play area,
children, and when children under-            the boys and a 9% increase in block                                     and 92% did not think ballet
stand their peers’ cultural traditions        play by the girls.                                                      lessons for a boy would be a
that are more likely to form a more             As noted earlier, children apply                                      mistake.
positive perspective of themselves            gender stereotypes to toys by the
and others (Nahl & Bilal, 2007).                                                                                   This study revealed a large discrep-
                                              time they are 3 (Freeman, 2007).                                   ancy between the attitudes that par-
                                              In a study conducted with moth-                                    ents publicly profess and the subtle
Consequences of                               ers and fathers of 3- to 5-year-old                                messages that their children perceive
Gender Stereotyping                           children, children’s perceptions of                                (Freeman, 2007).
                                              parental approval were found out of
Activity Choice                               alignment with the parents’ self-
                                              described attitudes.                                               Career Aspirations
   Young children often reveal their
gender stereotyping in their play.              •	 Parents demonstrated mark-                                      Occupation is a major signal of self
During dramatic play, preschool                    edly non-stereotyped attitudes                                identity. Gottfredson (2004) pro-
females are more likely to choose                  on parent questionnaires about                                posed that career aspirations origi-
family roles, while males are more                 how they would react to their                                 nate in the preschool years, and that
likely to choose adventure or action-              children’s cross-gender play.                                 projecting a concept of a future self
oriented roles, such as superheroes             •	 The children themselves indi-                                 can be seen as an attempt to present
(Hughes, 2003).                                    cated that their parents would                                an existing self-image.

  In another study, before interven-               not approve of most cross-                                      In a study examining career aspira-
tion, males spent 25% of their time                gender play, especially for the                               tions of 4- and 5-year-old children,
in block play versus 2% in house-                  boys, who thought their fathers                               researchers coded participants’
keeping areas (Unger, 1981). Fe-                   would approve of cross-gender                                 responses by categorizing occupa-
males, however, spent 10% of their                 choices only 9% of the time.                                  tions as female, male, or neutral,
                                                                                                                 based on the national statistics for
                                                                                                                 that occupation (Care, Denas, &
                                                                                                                 Brown, 2007). They also considered
                                                                                                                 the occupation of the parents. These
                                                                                                                 researchers found that
                                                                                                                   •	 there was an early bias associ-
                                                                                                                      ated with identifying with the
                                                                                                                      same-gender adult.
                                                                                                                   •	 males aspired to more gender-
                                                                                                                      typed fields than girls, who
                                                                                                                      chose evenly among tradition-
                                                                                                                      ally male, female, and neutral
                                                                                         Subjects & Predicates

                                                                                                                   •	 when asked to nominate jobs
                                                                                                                      that they would not want,
                                                                                                                      both girls and boys rejected
                                                                                                                      more traditionally female occu-
                                                                                                                      pations than male and neutral
      Skilled teachers encourage cross-gender activities and play in cross-gender                                     careers.
      centers. Positively reinforce children who are playing with non-stereotyped toys
      by talking with them and supporting their learning.

Dimensions of Early Childhood                                                                                                     Vol 39, No 3, 2011   15
                           Why Does Gender Matter? Counteracting Stereotypes With Young Children

  The researchers hypothesized that       Recommendations                           the reading of appropriate children’s
these findings are due to the lower       for Teachers                              literature and other book-related
prestige of typically female occu-                                                  activities (Blumberg, 2008).
pations (Care, Denas, & Brown,              The behavior of early childhood           Teachers are urged to critically
2007), and the significance of that       educators is a crucial factor in the      evaluate books for gender bias.
would be profound: Girls as young         quality of the learning process           However, rather than eliminating
as 4 have already internalized the        (Timmerman & Schreuder, 2008).            all books with stereotypes, teach-
belief that women’s work is neither                                                 ers can guide children to recognize
as valuable nor as desirable as men’s.    Classroom materials                       stereotypes and increase indepen-
                                            Gender stereotypes and sexism           dent critical thinking about gender
 Academic Outcomes                        limit children’s potential growth and     and perceptions of gender. Making
  The hidden messages that girls          development. Teachers are encour-         a concerted effort to provide posi-
receive about math, science, and          aged to carefully examine classroom       tive, empowered stories and images
technology shape their self-concept,      environments for the presence of          of diverse characters will activate
confidence, and interest in those         toys that are marketed in ways that       positive self-concepts for children
subjects (Ebach, et al. 2009). These      encourage single-gender use such as       and promote anti-bias attitudes
messages can come from bias in              •	 Barbie® dolls                        among the entire class (Derman-
the media, from family or teachers          •	 Hot Wheels®                          Sparks, 2001).
who may exhibit lower expectations          •	 computers designed for boys
for females in these subject areas,                                                 Curriculum
or even from the medium itself, as          Several Web sites promote furni-          Males typically called out in class
in the case of computer software          ture specifically designed for males      eight times more often than females,
demonstrating a high level of gender      or females (Freeman, 2007). Any           and sometimes their comments
bias favoring males (McNair, Kirova-      materials that promote gender-            had little to do with the discussion
Petrova, & Bhargava, 2001).               stereotyped play should either be         (Walker, 2005). When a male called
                                          removed so that the classroom             out, the teacher responded whether
   Calling attention to gender iden-      conveys a gender-neutral invitation
tity before an early elementary                                                     or not the comment was insight-
                                          for all students to enjoy, or discussed   ful or relevant, but when a female
standardized math test disrupted the      with children to ensure that they
academic achievement of females                                                     called out, she was reminded of the
                                          understand these toys are for males       rule about not talking unless called
and strengthened the performance          and females.
of males (Neuville & Croizet, 2007).                                                upon. If this happened only once,
When gender identity was not em-                                                    permanent damage would certainly
phasized, females performed just as                                                 not be a consequence, but once a
well or better as their male peers in        Critically evaluate                    day, every day, for 12 years of school
                                                                                    would certainly be enough to have a
the control group.                                books for                         sizeable impact on female students
  The imbalance between male and
female characters in children’s litera-         gender bias.                        (Sadker & Sadker, 1994).
ture and school reading texts creates                                                  When planning learning experi-
a situation where males rarely may                                                  ences, teachers can challenge poten-
                                            Picture books provide role models       tial stereotypes by presenting non-
be required to cross gender boundar-      for children in defining standards for
ies when reading. In addition, the                                                  traditional images and role models.
                                          feminine and masculine behavior,          They might
group socialization of individual         yet sexism manifests itself in diverse
readers may reinforce reading prefer-     ways in children’s literature (Tsao,        •	 request speakers from chil-
ences by gender. Males as young as        2008). Nonsexist books, on the                 dren’s families,
5 taunted other boys for reading a        other hand, produce positive changes        •	 feature unbiased books and
book they designated as a girl’s book     in self-concept, attitudes, and be-            materials, and
(Sandholtz & Sandholtz, 2010).            havior. Children’s gender attitudes         •	 give equal praise and en-
                                          may be positively changed through              couragement to females in
                                                                                         math and science and males

16    Vol 39, No 3, 2011                                                               Dimensions of Early Childhood
                         Why Does Gender Matter? Counteracting Stereotypes With Young Children

      in creative and language arts       behavior and the educational materi-      •	 the separation may suggest
      (Derman-Sparks, 2001).              als they use may hinder equitable            gender equity is a sidebar for
                                          learning in their classrooms.                students to the real work of
  Skilled teachers encourage                                                           education.
cross-gender activities and play in         In addition, a common miscon-
cross-gender centers. They can also       ception of preservice teachers is         The content of textbooks and
positively reinforce children who are     that only students, not teachers, are   instructional materials throughout
playing with non-stereotyped toys         responsible for bias in classroom in-   teacher education courses is critical
by talking with them and supporting       teractions. Novice teachers may enter   because of its potential to reduce or,
their learning.                           the profession without the skills to    through omission and stereotyping,
                                          make changes in four key areas:         reinforce biased attitudes and behav-
  Families                                  •	 school curriculum,                 iors (Sadker, et al., 2007).
   Gender differentiation and iden-         •	 interaction patterns,
tity construction begins at home,           •	 pedagogical strategies, and
                                                                                  Roles of Administrators
in that familial practices are often
profoundly gendered in terms of             •	 use of resources.                    Administrators are urged to
relationships and roles (Morrow,                                                  establish an ongoing process of
2006). Teachers can help inform                                                   introspection and evaluation to help
families of children by                   Prepare teachers to                     teachers consider how they relate
                                                                                  to genders differently. Teachers can
  •	 demonstrating unbiased inter-
     actions and communication,
                                          promote equitable                       then monitor their language and
     and                                      teaching.                           actions in order to eliminate inad-
                                                                                  vertently biased messages.
  •	 providing coaching and
                                                                                    Administrators are also advised
     encouragement, while
                                             It is imperative to prepare novice   to consider the consequences of
  •	 respecting cultural differences      teachers to recognize gender issues     hiring an all-female staff. Program
     without judgment or                  and promote equitable teaching          structure should also allow for the
     condescension.                       (Fulmer, 2010). Teacher educa-          maintenance of group gender bal-
  Family workshops and information        tors themselves must be committed       ance to facilitate opportunities for
about the long-term effects of gender     to teaching students about gender       male/female interaction (Robeson,
bias can also increase the awareness      issues. If only a few teacher educa-    Marshall, & Keefe, 2003). Addition-
and critical thinking about ways that     tors in an institution address gender   ally, administrators can coordinate
families communicate gender stereo-       issues, preservice teachers receive     in-service opportunities for families
types to children (Small, 2003).          mixed messages about their im-          and professional development in the
                                          portance. The curriculum in high-       areas of anti-bias curriculum and
                                          quality teacher education programs      neutralizing gender stereotypes in
Implications for                          incorporates gender issues.             young children.
Teacher Education                           Although making gender issues
                                          a required course may seem like a       Conclusions
  Teachers play a critical role in pro-   viable approach, Geist and King
moting equitable learning. Findings       (2008) argue that it is problematic       The power of self-concept is pro-
from national surveys in the U.S.         for three reasons:                      found, as is the ability of adults to
suggest that prospective teachers                                                 influence the children around them.
receive little or no teacher prepara-       •	 few programs have available
                                                                                  Families and teachers are encouraged
tion about equity, perhaps due to              space;
                                                                                  to conscientiously and actively cre-
competing requirements in limited           •	 a separate course may leave        ate a positive learning environment
time (Langford, 2006; Sadker, et               important gender dimensions        for young children—not just in
al., 2007; Sandholtz & Sandholtz,              out of educational founda-         promoting developmentally appro-
2010). Consequently, new teach-                tions, methods courses, and        priate practices to stimulate cogni-
ers are often unaware of how their             field experience; and              tive, social, emotional, and physical

Dimensions of Early Childhood                                                                      Vol 39, No 3, 2011   17
                                   Why Does Gender Matter? Counteracting Stereotypes With Young Children

domains, but also in creating a moral                      Fiese, B., & Skillman, G. (2000). Gender differ-         McNair, S., Kirova-Petrova, A., & Bhargava, A.
                                                             ences in family stories: Moderating influence of        (2001). Computers and young children in the
context for what they learn, as well                         parent gender role and child gender. Sex Roles: A       classroom: Strategies for minimizing gender bias.
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                                                             about genderized behaviors: Miscommunication,           lines01/0529-05.htm
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                                                             better: Gender differences in mathematics learning      tion Service No. ED419248
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Sparks, 2001).                                               ogy, 35(1): 43-52.                                      gender identity impair math performance among
                                                           Gottfredson, L. (2004). Intelligence: Is it the           7- to 8-years old girls? The moderating role of task
  By equipping young children with                           epidemiologist-elusive fundamental cuase of social      difficulty. European Journal of Psychology of Educa-
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                                                             Social Psychology, 86: 174-179.                        Piaget, J. (1961). The child’s conception of number.
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the critical thinking skills to identify                     derhill, B. (2006). Increasing quality in early care   Robeson, W.W., Marshall, N.L., & Keefe, N.
                                                             and learning environments. Early Child Develop-         (1999). Gender equity in early childhood educa-
stereotypes, teachers and families                           ment and Care, 176(2), 157-169.                         tion. Young Children, 54(4), 9-13.
can impart in children self-concept                        Hendrix, K.G., & Wei, F.F. (2009 ). Gender differ-       Sadker, M., & Sadker, D. (1994). Failing at fair-
resiliency, even when faced with                             ences in preschool children’s recall of competitive     ness: How America’s schools cheat girls. New York:
                                                             and noncompetitive computer mathematics games.          Scribner’s.
negative stereotypes (Small, 2003).                          Learning, Media and Technology, 34(1), 27-43.          Sadker, D., Zittleman, K., Earley, P., McCormick,
Those children will then be less likely                    Hughes, F. (2003). Sensitivity to the social and          T., Strawn, C., & Preston, J. (2007). The treat-
                                                             cultural context of the play of young children. In      ment of gender equity in teacher education. In
to perpetuate the stereotypes and can                        J. Isenberg & M. Jalongo (Eds.), Major trends and       S. Klein (Ed.), The handbook for achieving gender
help end the cycle of prejudice.                             issues in early childhood education (pp. 126-133).      equity through education (2nd ed.) (pp. 131–150).
                                                             New York: Teachers College Press.                       Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
                                                           Hyun, E. (2001). Gender-fair and gender-congru-          Sales, E., Spjeldnes, S., & Koeshe, G. (2010).
References                                                   ent practices for young children’s naturalist intel-    Teacher support as a buffer between interparental
                                                             ligence: From the perspective of developmentally        conflict and child social skills. Early Childhood
                                                             and culturally appropriate practice (DCAP). ERIC        Development and Care, 180(3), 335-346.
Blumberg, R.L. (2008). The invisible obstacle to
                                                             Document Reproduction Service No. ED458944             Saltmarsh, S. (2009). Becoming economic subjects:
 educational equality: Gender bias in textbooks.
                                                           Jackson, S. (2007). She might not have the right          Agency, consumption and popular culture in early
 Prospects, 38(3): 345–361.
                                                             tools... and he does: Children’s sense-making of        childhood. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics
Care, E., Denas, J., & Brown, R. (2007). The real-
                                                             gender, work and abilities in early school readers.     of Education, 30(1), 47-59.
 ism and sex type of four- to five-year-old children’s
                                                             Gender and Education, 19(1), 61-77.                    Sandholtz, S.H., & Sandholtz, J.H. (2010).
 occupational aspirations. Journal of Early Child-
                                                           Keefe, N., Marshall, N.L., & Robeson, W.W.                Confronting gender issues in a novice teacher’s
 hood Research, 5(2), 155-168.
                                                             (2003). Gender equity in early childhood educa-         classroom: Student and parent/teacher educator
Carlson, E.A., Egeland, B., & Sroufe, A. (2004).
                                                             tion. In C. Copple (Ed.), A world of difference (pp.    perspectives. The New Educator, 6(2), 118-34.
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                                                             109-113). Washington DC: National Association          Small, S. (2003). Gender learning in early child-
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                                                             for the Education of Young Children.                    hood. In C. Copple (ed.), A world of difference,
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                                                           Kohlberg, L. (1981) Essays in moral development.          (pp. 114-115). Washington DC: National Associa-
Chick, K., Heilman-Houser, R., & Hunter, M.
                                                             San Francisco: Harper & Row.                            tion for the Education of Young Children.
 (2002). The impact of child care on gender role
                                                           Langford, R. (2006). Discourses of the good early        Thorne, B. (1993). Gender play: Boys and girls in
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                                                             childhood educator in professional training:            school. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University
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                                                             Reproducing marginality or working toward social        Press.
Derman-Sparks, L. (2001). Anti-bias curriculum:
                                                             change. International Journal of Educational Policy,   Timmerman, G., & Schreuder, P. (2008). Pedagogi-
 Tools for empowering young children. Washington
                                                             Research, & Practice, 7, 115-125.                       cal professionalism and gender in daycare. Gender
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                                                           Leaper, C. (2000). Gender, affiliation, assertion,        and Education, 20(1), 1–14.
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                                                             and the interactive context of parent-child play.      Tsao, Y.L. (2008). Gender issues in young children’s
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                                                           Lee, L. (2008). Understanding gender through             Unger, R.K. (1981). Sex as a social reality: Field
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                                                             Disney’s marriages: A study of young Korean im-         laboratory research. Psychology of Women Quarterly,
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                                                             migrant girls. Early Childhood Education Journal,       5(4), 645-653.
 similar problems and how to overcome them.
                                                             36(1), 11-18.                                          Vygotsky, L. (1961). The development of scientific
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                                                           Martin, C., & Ruble, D. (2004). Children’s search         concepts in childhood. In K. Paciorek, & J. Munro
Erden, F., & Wolfang, C.H. (2004). An exploration
                                                             for gender cues: Cognitive perspectives on gender       (Eds.), Sources: Notable selections in early childhood
 of the differences in prekindergarten, kindergarten,
                                                             development. Current Directions in Psychological        education (pp. 11-18). Guilford, CT: Dushkin/
 and first grade teachers’ beliefs related to discipline
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 Child Development and Care, 174(1), 3-11.

18      Vol 39, No 3, 2011                                                                                              Dimensions of Early Childhood
                                 Why Does Gender Matter? Counteracting Stereotypes With Young Children

Walker, S. (2005). Gender differences in the          Angeles. Aina is a former teacher and         Aina at California State University, Los
 relationship between young children’s peer-related
 social competence and individual differences in
                                                      an administrator from K-12 both in            Angeles. In addition to teaching pre-
 theory of mind. The Journal of Genetic Psychology,   Nigeria and Canada. He teaches gradu-         school through grade 2 for several years,
 166(3), 297-312.                                     ate and undergraduate courses in early        she participated in an early childhood
Zaman, A. (2007). Gender-sensitive teaching: A        childhood education and coordinates           teaching internship program at La Verne
 refective approach for early childhood education
 teacher training programs. American Association of   the Master’s Program. Aina is author of       University in California.
 Colleges for Teacher Education, 129(1), 110-118.     several children’s storybooks and articles.
                                                      He is also a storyteller.
                                                                                                    If you’re a SECA member, you’ll find more
About the Authors                                     Petronella A. Cameron, Ph.D., is an           resources and information about this topic
                                                      Early Childhood Consultant and Assis-         in Dimensions Extra. Go to the “members-
Olaiya E. Aina, Ph.D., is a Professor                 tant Professor and Program Director in        only” page of the SECA website to get the
of Early Childhood Education in the                   Early Childhood Education at Central          latest issue.
Division of Curriculum and Instruc-                   State University, Wilberforce, Ohio. She
tion at California State University, Los              was a graduate teaching assistant for

Dimensions of Early Childhood                                                                                         Vol 39, No 3, 2011   19
                                                                                  These Ideas
                                                                                  With Books
               Connect Anti-Bias Education With a Children’s Book
                                                                                Anita McLeod

                                              Amazing Grace
                                              written by Mary Hoffman and illustrated by Caroline Binch.
                                              (1991). New York: Dial Books for Young Children.
                                                Grace loves to read and act out stories she has heard. When Grace’s class
                                              decides to perform the play Peter Pan, she knows exactly the role she wants
                                              to play—Peter. Her friends tell her she can’t be Peter because she’s not a boy
                                              and she is Black. Her grandmother reminds her she can be anything she
                                              wants if she puts her mind to it. After Grace’s grandmother takes her to a
                                              ballet starring a young woman from Trinidad, Grace practices dancing in
                                              her imaginary tutu just like Juliet. When her classmates see her audition for
                                              the play, they know she is the perfect Peter. The play is a fantastic success!
                                              Ages: Preschool through second grade
                                              Teaching concepts: self concept, families, storytelling, occupations

              PRETEND PLAY: Add a variety of cos-                            SOCIAL/EMOTIONAL: Children write
              tumes, professional clothing, and props to                     and decorate invitations to family or
              the dramatic play area. Familiar books can                     community members to share informa-
              stimulate children’s ideas for role-playing.                   tion about what they do. Seek diversity in
Encourage children to try a variety of roles and offer guid- gender and ethnicity so children hear and see men and
ance if needed to prevent stereotyping of roles.               women from a variety of ethnic backgrounds in many
                                                               different situations. Look for maintenance workers,
              PRETEND PLAY: Using a puppet stage or            electricians, hair stylists, construction workers, orchestra
              table on its side, children use craft-stick pup- members, dancers, artists, and other occupations.
              pets to dramatize familiar stories. Children
                                                                             LITERACY: Using patterned sentence

              glue their drawings (or cut-outs) of favorite
story characters to the stick. Children refer to books, such           bc stems, children complete a sentence such as
as Three Billy Goats Gruff, Anansi the Spider, Amazing                       “I can…” or “I want to…” using invented
Grace, Brown Bear Brown Bear, and We’re Going on a Bear                      spelling or dictations for an adult to write.
Hunt for story sequence or character roles.                    After children illustrate their sentences, they assemble
                                                               and bind them into a book to place in the book center.
              MUSIC & MOVEMENT: Using patterned
              sentence stems, children complete a sentence                   LITERACY: Select books representing in-
              such as “I can…” or “I want to…” using
              invented spelling or dictations for an adult
to write. After children illustrate their sentences, they
                                                                A      bc dividuals in a variety of work situations and
                                                                             from a variety of ethnic and gender groups
                                                                             that illustrate how individuals live into
assemble and bind them into a book to place in the book their dreams by working hard and never giving up, such
center.                                                        as Mirette on the High Wire, Miss Rumphius, Sam Johnson
                                                               and the Blue Ribbon Quilt, Lady Bug Girl, More Than
                                                               Anything Else, Amelia & Eleanor Go for a Ride, Snowflake
                                                               Bentley, Martin’s Big Words, and Art From Her Heart.
Tracy Anne Jones, Ed.D., is the Manager of Provider Engagement at Collaborative for Children, a non-profit
agency dedicated to building a strong educational foundation for young children.

20    Vol 39, No 3, 2011                                                               Dimensions of Early Childhood

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