, Volume 22, Issue 5-6, pp 359-367

Pink or blue: Environmental gender stereotypes in the first two years of life

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Abstract

The physical environment of 120 girls and boys was compared in order to study the emergence of gender differences in infancy. Three age groups were investigated, 5, 13, and 25 months, with 40 children in each group. The quantity and types of toys, the colors and types of clothing, and the colors and motifs of the children's room were noted on a checklist by an observer who visited their homes. The results showed that boys were provided with more sports equipment, tools, and large and small vehicles. Girls had more dolls, fictional characters, child's furniture, and other toys for manipulation. They wore pink and multicolored clothes more often, had more pink pacifiers and jewelry. Boys wore more blue, red and white clothing. They had more blue pacifiers. Yellow bedding was more frequently observed in the girls' rooms, while blue bedding and curtains were more prevalent in the boys' rooms. Women were the predominant providers of toys for children. It thus seems that, nowadays, very early in their development, girls and boys already experience environments which are dissimilar. We may hypothesize that these differential environments will have an impact on the development of specific abilities and preferential activities in children.

This research was supported by grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and FCAR, Québec. We thank France Frenette and Diane Mathurin for their assistance in the collection of data, and Tibie Rome-Flanders for her comments on a first draft of the paper.