, Volume 38, Issue 9-10, pp 685-700

Preschoolers' Awareness of Social Expectations of Gender: Relationships to Toy Choices

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Abstract

Sixty-one preschoolers (28 girls, 33 boys) whoseethnic/racial descriptions reflected local populationstatistics (one parent categorized her child as NativeAmerican and White, while 60 parents categorized their children as White) were videotaped in aplayroom. In the playroom, children had access to a toolset, and a dish set that were either presented neutrallyor as gender-typed. During subsequent interviews, a high frequency of boys reported that theirfathers would think cross-gender-typed play was“bad”. Boys' toy choices in the playroomwere the most stereotyped if boys perceived that theirfathers would think cross-gender-typed toy play was"bad", and if the boys played in a contextthat highlighted toys as gender stereotyped. Thediscussion highlights the role of social constraints(both immediate and learned) in boys' gender-typedplay.