Ducklings School News

Gender Bias Starts Early

No one can deny we want young children to develop confidence, dream big and understand that everyone is smart and strong in their own, individual way. The Boston Globe recently shared findings of a study published the in journal Science. The study looked at 400 children between the ages of 5 and 7 and found “girls as young as 6 can be led to believe men are inherently smarter and more talented than women, making girls less motivated to pursue novel activities or ambitious careers. That such stereotypes exist is hardly a surprise, but the findings show these biases can affect children at a very young age.”

The foundation of gender identity usually develops in the preschool years. By about age 3, most children are able to identify themselves (and others) as boys or girls. However, more complex concepts of gender are still being learned. As parents, teachers and caregivers, it is important that we deliver messages of gender equality and stay mindful of gender stereotypes. Be aware of your own biases, allow your girls to play with trucks and your boys to play with dolls. Pink and blue are just colors! One is not meant specifically for one gender or the other.

A great way to incorporate non-stereotypical messages into your child’s life is through children’s literature. There are countless books that fall into this category but here are a few we love:

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldacchino
Princesses Can Be Pirates Too! by Christi Zellerhoff
Madam President by Lane Smith
Ballerino Nate by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
William’s Doll by Charlotte Zolotow
Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty

To learn more about promoting the development of healthy gender concepts in your child, try these articles and resources:

https://www.adl.org/education/resources/tools-and-strategies/question-corner/prevent-gender-bias-in-young-children

https://www.naeyc.org/resources/pubs/yc/jul2016/gender-identity

https://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/uk/18/11/preventing-gender-bias

https://www.southernearlychildhood.org/upload/pdf/Why_Does_Gender_Matter_Counteracting_Stereotypes_With_Young_Children_Olaiya_E_Aina_and_Petronella_A_Cameron.pdf