Gender-stereotyped attitudes and behavior in kindergarten students

Margit Kanka, Petra Wagner, Barbara Schober, Christiane Spiel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

From the first day of life, children are exposed to gender-stereotyped environment (e.g. Golombok & Fivush, 1994). Despite some slight differences, there is a common idea about what is typically " male" or " female" across cultures and children are raised upon those beliefs (Wiliams & Best, 1990). By the age of three, children recognize their own sex (Kohlberg, 1966) and which behavior patterns are " appropriate" for being a boy or a girl. Compared to former studies, it is the intention of this study to add knowledge on gender-stereotypism in children by (1) focusing on gender-stereotyped attitudes and gender-stereotyped behavior patterns, by (2) studying kindergarten children, and taking into account the perspectives from children and parents. For data collection in children a new test instrument-which children would experience as an exciting game-was developed whereas parents' data were collected by questionnaires. In the present study, 89 kindergarten students (46 girls and 43 boys), aged 2;10 through 6;05 years, and 67 parents participated. Results showed a trend in higher gender-stereotyped attitudes in boys than in girls. While responses concerning gender-stereotyped behavior were nearly identical for boys and their parents, girl's responses were less stereotyped than those of their parents. Thus, boys are still showing more gender-stereotyped attitudes and behavior than girls whereas girls are already open-minded about different sex roles and more modern-nontraditional- views. With regards to the results of the present study, sex roles, traditional and progressive perspectives, should not only be part of the kindergarten curriculum but also part of parental education. Parents and kindergarten teachers hence would not only need more " hands-on material" (like games) but also the awareness that there are differences in boys and girls and how to perfectly handle them without treating their children in a gender-stereotypical way.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-303
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Learning
Volume18
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Keywords

  • Attitudes
  • Behavior
  • Gender differences
  • Gender-stereotypy
  • Kindergarten students
  • Preschool age
  • Sex roles

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