Social Contexts for gender roles: Parents

 A document outlining the influence that parents can have on the role of gender developement and evaluations points

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Social Contexts: Parents
Child's environment...
Is often full of gender stereotyping in physical and social environment
The décor of children's rooms, their clothes and their toys are chosen on gender lines: pink
for girls and blue for boys
Choice of toys differs between the sexes: girls have more dolls and domestic items. Boys
have more tools and sports equipment.
Logos are also important: A flower indicates feminine, a plane masculine
Fagot et al (1989)
Carried out a longitudinal study on children
Showed that parents encouraged gender-appropriate behaviour
Discouraged gender inappropriate behaviour
Even before the age of 2
Caldera et al (1998)
Investigated difference between how mother and father plat with children when with a doll
or clown
Average age ­ 20 months
Mothers with daughters initiated in caring activities
Fathers with sons initiated in more caring activities than the daughter
Fathers can be important socialising factor for sons
Bhanot et al (2005)
Showed that when parents endorse the stereotype that maths is a male domain the
daughters underestimate their ability in the subject
Stereotypes are inadvertedly imposed when parents give unsolicited help
Girls had less self confidence with maths when parents gave help to sons.
Evidence for Nurture...
There is supporting research for the claim that parents are an important social influence on
gender role development
Smith and Lloyd (1978) observed mothers playing with an infant who was either presented
as a "boy" or a "girl" (name, clothes). The mothers not only selected "gender appropriate"
toys but also responded more actively when a "boy" showed increased motor activity
This suggests that parents play a role in determining a child's gender role as they influence
the children into playing with certain toys and a acting a certain way

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Evidence for Nurture...
Also further supporting research evidence for the idea that this parental input actually does
impact on a child's observable behaviour
Fagot (1992) found that parents who show the clearest patterns of differentiated
reinforcement (treating the sexes differently) have children who are quickest to develop
strong gender preferences
This suggests that the theory that the way parents treat boys and girls has an impact on how
quickly their gender roles develop
Evidence against Nurture...…read more


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