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Social influences on gender…read more

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Parents and peers can influence gender roles
Social learning theory suggests that we learn by observing and
copying the behaviour of people around us.
This learning can be passive (when the behaviour is simply
watched and copied) or it can be active (when the behaviour is
reinforced by rewards or discouraged by punishments).
Gender typical behaviours can be learnt this way, with males
copying the behaviour of other males and females copying
behaviour of other females. For example, girls may imitate the
behaviour of their mothers ­ the behaviour becomes part of
their idea of the female gender role.
There's also evidence that parents and peers react differently to
children depending on their gender.…read more

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Parents influence on gender roles
Rubin at al (1974) found that fathers used words like 'soft' and
'beautiful' to describe newborn daughters and 'strong' and 'firm'
to describe sons.
Culp at al (1983) found that women treated babies differently
according to how they were dressed ­ taking more to those
dressed as girls and smiling more at those dressed as boys.
Hron-stewart's (1988) study found that adults were quicker to
comfort a crying baby girl than crying a baby boy, expecting a
boy to be harder and braver. Also, mother were more likely to
help a daughter complete a task than a son.…read more

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Peers influence on gender roles
Maccoby and Jacklin (1987) found that children as young as 3
prefer same sex play mates. Maccoby (1990) found that when
children organise their own activities they tend to segregate
themselves according to their gender.
Serbin at al (1984) suggested that girls try and influence
situations by polite suggestion whilst boys use direct
Lamb and Roopnarine's (1979) study of nursery behaviours
found that children encouraged gender appropriate behaviours
and criticised gender inappropriate behaviour.…read more

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Media influence on gender roles
TV, films, magazines and computer games usually show
gender stereotypical behaviour. Several studies have shown
that the behaviour displayed in these media can influence
gender roles.
Some studies have shown that the more TV a child watches the
more stereotypical their views on gender are.
Williams (1986) carried out a two year natural experiment in
Canada. He looked at the effect of introducing TV to a town
(Notel), by comparing it to a nearby town that already had TV
(Multitel). At the start of the experiment, gender stereotyping
was much greater in Multitel than Notel. Williams found that
gender stereotypes of Notel children increased and became
more likely those of Multitel children after the introduction of TV.…read more

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Schools can also influence gender roles
The attitude of schools and teachers can influence
gender roles.
For example, if teachers hold gender stereotypes this
may influence their beliefs about the abilities and
preferences of girls and boys.
Bigler (1995) compared students in classes that were
divided by gender with students in classes where
gender wasn't emphasised. Students divided by
gender were more likely to have stronger gender
stereotypes and a stronger belief that all males are
similar and all females are similar.…read more

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