An investigation into the existence of gender stereotyping in the early years.
University of Wales Institute, Cardiff
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This investigation spanned a six week period and was undertaken with a population of twenty five children aged between three and five years. The purpose of the study was to determine whether children as young as three years of age have gender stereotyped attitudes and to examine how this affects their interactions with others, their own play and their daily lives. The research also considered how gender stereotyped attitudes might be overcome. Because of the relatively small size of the population the research is not intended to be conclusive but is perceived as a snapshot of a particular group of children over a short period of time. During the investigation the children revealed that they had very stereotyped attitudes to gender, which had been absorbed through a variety of influences including school. It was recognised that stereotyped images in books were an important influence on young children. The research revealed that very young children are well aware of gender "rules" but they need experience of non-stereotypical behaviour and situations before they can begin to question and challenge stereotypes. The study of children's play patterns demonstrated that girls can be disadvantaged at an early age, therefore the implications for the future must be a concern. Obviously the results obtained from the research data cannot be regarded as statistically significant because of the small size of the population. However, because they were kept over a period of several weeks and revealed similar patterns of behaviour, they have some validity. At the end of the project the teachers involved felt that they had become much more aware of sex differences in education and this increased awareness will no doubt influence and benefit their future practice.
MA Education Thesis
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