Gender Stereotype: Past & Still Present?
Grade Level: 9th - 12th; Type: Social Science
- How do children, today, perceive gender roles in society?
- What are the differences in perception between generations?
- Are there differences in gender stereotypes between children of different ages?
- Has our current condition improved? Are we moving toward a more equal society with regards to gender?
Our preconceived notions of "woman's work" and a "man's job" are often formed at a very young age. Even infants are assigned a color when their sex is determined, blue for boys and pink for girls. Gender specific toys and expectations in behavior also occur at a young age (Thorne, 1993). This is most prevalent in sports. Metheny (1965) researched the perceptions of male and female sports where women's sports were more of beauty and aesthetics such as dancing, while men's sports were competitive and aggressive as we see in football. However, in 2006, Schmalz & Kerstetter studied 8-10 year-old children and their participation and views of gender and sports. This study concluded that gender categorization with regards to sports was improving. Neutral gender sports, such as running, cycling, golfing, and karate, were on the rise. Many girls were playing "masculine" sports while boys were participating in traditionally "feminine" activities. Despite this improvement gender stereotypes still exist and can influence a child in negative ways. As we progressively move into the 21st century is society creating a more equal playing field for girls and boys?
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