Gender Roles and StereotypesThis Research Paper Gender Roles and Stereotypes and other 61,000+ term papers, college essay examples and free essays are available now on ReviewEssays.com
Autor: reviewessays • February 18, 2011 • Research Paper • 2,564 Words (11 Pages) • 1,206 Views
Multitudes of studies have examined the effects of societal and parental influences on
children's own beliefs about gender roles and stereotypes. This paper, which is an
elaboration of a group project** created by the Gender Boundaries Group* conducted in
Eugene Matusov's Fall 1996 class, Psychology 100G, studies the research surrounding
gender roles and stereotypes perpetuated by parents onto their children via modeling,
clothing, toys, and television exposure, and its effects have been considered in an
attempt to encourage a gender neutral environment.
*The Gender Boundaries Group consists of: Barbara Burns, Dave Fellner, Elizabeth
Hom, Deborah Ingram, Edward Rivera, Lorraine Villoria, and Mary Zinsmeyer.
**My specific contribution to the group project centered on societal influences on
children and is included in the text of this report as the second paragraph. My extension
of the group project, this final paper, includes research conducted via the World Wide
Web as well as a section on androgynous gender role orientation.
Do parents inadvertently expose their children to their preconceived notions of
gender-stereotypical expectations and roles? Gender roles and boundaries can be
comforting and provide guidelines for people; however, these roles are both limiting and
constraining in today's rapidly changing society. Infants begin with many similarities; they
are born incompetent-- needing comfort, food, and warmth from a capable adult.
(Barbara Rogoff lecture, 11/19/96, UCSC) While some studies and theories have found
that gender differences are based in biology and evolution,
(http://fnord.dur.ac.uk/teaching/1childdev/h7ac_details.html) socialization, both parental
and societal, creates gender differences that become thoroughly entrenched in our
children. This paper will focus specifically on how steretypes prevalent in socialization,
modeling, clothing, room decor, toys, and televion influence children as well as the
introduce the benefits of creating a non-sex stereotyped environment.
Gender stereotypes in infants are perpetuated by society's expectations and
perceptions. Societal influences, preconceived notions and expectations enforce
already existing gender stereotypes. Society's gender stereotypes increase during the
preschool and childhood years, reach a plateau, and decrease in adolescence (Vogel,
Lake, Evans, & Hildebrandt Karraker, 1991). In the study of forty-eight children, their
mothers, and 16 college students, gender based stereotypes influenced interaction with
infants which in turn socialized the infants to conform to their respective gender role.
Ratings of the female infants centered on their small size and beauty. Male infants are
judged usually according to their ability and intelligence. While evidence of gender
stereotyping in infant ratings are becoming less dominant after adolescence, sex
stereotyping in adults' behavior towards infants has changed little. Obviously, society
shapes the gender stereotypes that both children and adults hold.
Parental expectations put pressure on offspring to perform in like ways to gender
specific behaviors. The formations of gender boundaries were found in the verbal
descriptions for newborn infants. In an early study, evidence was found to support the
theory that parents respond to their children in different ways according to the child's
sex, from gender stereotyped birth activities, clothing, to toys and bedroom decor
(Rubin, Provenzano, & Zella, 1974). This study also found that daughters were
described significantly different than sons, with adjectives of "little", "beautiful", "pretty",
"cute" and "resembling their mothers". The fathers were more extreme in stereotyping
their offspring than were the mothers. Twenty years later, in another study, white,
middle-class parents were asked to describe their newborn children using Rubin's
nine-point adjective scale and their perceptions and expectations of the new infant
(Hildebrandt Karraker, Vogel, Lake, 1995). The parents in this study showed no gender
stereotyping in verbal descriptions of the newborns, although some limited stereotyping
in ratings was observed. Specifically, parents described their daughters as finer
featured, less strong and more delicate than male babies. The mothers used fewer
terms than did the fathers.
These conflicting studies suggest that there may be decreasing expectations and
perceptions of gender specific behaviors by parents. In twenty-three studies reviewed
Stern and Karraker (1989), the strength and consistency of gender labeling was
evaluated. In each of the twenty-three studies, gender neutrally clothed infants were