Gender Stereotypes in the Early Years
Gender stereotyping is a deep routed and common problem. As such, stereotypes can be easily reinforced unintentionally.
In 2007 a study of 80 children who were 3 & 4 years old showed that fathers tend to be more concerned about their daughters’ risk-taking behaviour than about their son’s. Children may internalise their parents worries. A study of 3-years olds found that boys thought their fathers tolerated behaviour that could lead to injury and girls thought they would protect them from the consequences. This suggests that girls may learn to expect that others think they are more prone to injury than boys, says the researchers: “It is quite possible that they internalise this sense of vulnerability”
New Scientist – 21st April 2018
Stereotypes are oversimplified preconceptions about what a person will like, or how they will behave, simply because they belong to a particular group.
When it comes to gender, stereotypes assume that all boys will be the same and like the same things and all girls will be the same and like the same things.
As children become exposed to assumptions of what boys and girls should look like and how they should behave, it can make them reluctant to access things they perceive as ‘not being for them’. It can also limit their understanding of what is possible for them to do or achieve.
All children deserve the chance to thrive, and early years practitioners can play a key role in enabling this. In settings where the things that make each child different are accepted and celebrated, children can be themselves and can as a result reach their full potential.
To ensure that our children are supported to reach their full potential, it is essential that we (early years settings) actively encourage all children to play with a variety of resources, to play with different children and to access different experiences.
Celebrating difference at a time when habits and attitudes are forming (early years) helps to prevent children from developing prejudices as they grow up.