Gender Stereotype Avoidance


Ellis recently refused to wear pants.  No, she’s not an exhibitionist.  I had just received shipment of pants I ordered for her.  They are a gender neutral color gray.  But, the are indeed boys shorts.  After I “installed” the pants on her, I murmured under my breath “those are boy pants”.  Ellis caught an ear shot of what I said and immediately pulled the shorts off as if it were in flames.

For the next few weeks, Ellis refused to wear pants and will yell “dresses” whenever I attempted to dress her.  Thus, I realized that perhaps I made a gender stereotype mistake.  Although I thought my comment was at the time humorous, it perhaps caught my daughter’s displeasure as, unknowing to me at the time, she just reached the stage where she’s starting to characterize things by gender.

Notes from Purdue Provide Parents website:

Avoiding Gender Stereotypes

Young children believe they can be anything and can do anything.  But gender stereotypes limit their dreams and experiences.  If a child enjoys doing something that is different from the usual, that child might feel embarrassed or uncomfortable.  That child might feel there is something wrong with her.

Parental Influences

Parents teach with rewards and discipline.  One way to create stereotype is to praise girls and punish boys for doing the same thing.

Parents teach by spending time with their children.  Children see what their parents do.  Children learn when they try to imitate their parents.

Parents teach by telling their children what they expect from them.  Parents may expect different things from them.  Parents may express different things from  their sons and daughters.  This supports gender stereotypes.

Parents teach by giving their children chores.  However, avoid giving gender based chores such as girls clean and boys take the trash out.

Gender differences

Boys are more mobile and active.  But this does not mean girls are passive.  Girls are less cozy with the unfamiliar, so they appear to cause less trouble.

Preschool girls practice intimate dependent skills seeking intimate touch and support especially when exploring new places and experiences.

By school age we see girls honing their nurturing skills as they being to explore the immense powers of giving and withholding affection.

Action Items

Stop gender stereotyping

Let children develop many different skills and interests and not assume girls only like girly things

Let both boys and girls try activities together

Help children respect both boys and girls