Sex Roles

, Volume 22, Issue 5–6, pp 359–367 | Cite as

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

  • Andrée Pomerleau
  • Daniel Bolduc
  • Gérard Malcuit
  • Louise Cossette


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.


Color Gender Difference Social Psychology Bedding Physical Environment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bell, N. J., & Carver, W. A reevaluation of gender label effects: expectant mothers' responses to infants. Child Development 1980, 51 925–927.Google Scholar
  2. Bloch, M. N. The development of sex differences in young children's activities at home: The effect of the social context. Sex Roles 1987, 16 279–301.Google Scholar
  3. Block, J. H. Differential premises arising from differential socialization of the sexes: Some conjectures. Child Development 1983, 54 1335–1354.Google Scholar
  4. Bradbard, M. R. Sex differences in adults' gifts and children's toy requests at Christmas. Psychological Reports 1985, 56 569–570.Google Scholar
  5. Caldera, Y. M., Huston, A. C., & O'Brien, M. Social interactions and play patterns of parents and toddlers with feminine, masculine, and neutral toys. Child Development 1989, 60 70–76.Google Scholar
  6. Carpenter, C. J. Activity structure and play: Implications for socialization. In M. B. Liss (Ed.), Social and cognitive skills. Sex roles and children's play. New York: Academic Press, 1983.Google Scholar
  7. Culp, R. E., Cook, A. S., & Housley, P. C. A comparison of observed and reported adult-infant interactions: effects of perceived sex. Sex Roles 1983, 9 475–479.Google Scholar
  8. DiPietro, J. A. Rough and tumble play: A function of gender. Developmental Psychology 1981, 17 50–58.Google Scholar
  9. Eaton, W. O., & Enns, L. R. Sex differences in human motor activity level. Psychological Bulletin 1986, 100 19–28.Google Scholar
  10. Fagot, B. I. The influence of sex of child on parental reactions to toddler children. Child Development 1978, 49 459–465.Google Scholar
  11. Fagot, B. I. Teacher and peer reactions to boys' and girls' play styles. Sex Roles 1984, 11 691–762.Google Scholar
  12. Fagot, B. I. Changes in thinking about early sex role development. Developmental Review 1985, 5 83–98.Google Scholar
  13. Huston, A. C., & Carpenter, C. J. Gender differences in preschool classrooms: the effects of sex-typed activity choices. In L. C. Wilkinson & C. B. Marett (Eds.), Gender-related differences in the classrooms. New York: Academic Press, 1984.Google Scholar
  14. Jacklin, N. J. Female and male: Issues of gender. American Psychologist 1989, 44 127–133.Google Scholar
  15. Lafrenière, P., Strayer, F. F., & Gauthier, R. The emergence of same-sex affiliative preferences among preschool peers: a developmental/ethological perspective. Child Development 1984, 55 1958–1965.Google Scholar
  16. Maccoby, E. E. Gender as a social category. Developmental Psychology 1988, 24 755–765.Google Scholar
  17. Maccoby, E. E., & Jacklin, C. N. Sex differences in aggression. A rejoinder and reprise. Child Development 1980, 51 964–980.Google Scholar
  18. Martin, C. L. Children's use of gender-related information in making social judgments. Developmental Psychology 1989, 25 80–88.Google Scholar
  19. Miller, C. L. Qualitative differences among gender-stereotyped toys: Implications for cognitive and social development in girls and boys. Sex Roles 1987, 16 473–487.Google Scholar
  20. O'Brien, M., & Huston, A. C. Development of sex-typed play behavior in toddlers. Developmental Psychology 1985, 21 866–871.Google Scholar
  21. Oettingen, G. The influence of the kindergarten teacher on sex differences in behavior. International Journal of Behavioral Development 1985, 8 3–13.Google Scholar
  22. Pellegrini, A. D., & Perlmutter, J. C. Classroom contextual effects on children's play. Developmental Psychology 1989, 25 289–296.Google Scholar
  23. Rheingold, H. L., & Cook, K. V. The contents of boys' and girls' rooms as an index of parents' behavior. Child Development 1975, 46 445–463.Google Scholar
  24. Schwartz, L. A., & Markham, W. T. Sex stereotyping in children's toy advertisements. Sex Roles 1985, 12 157–170.Google Scholar
  25. Sidorowicz, L. S., & Lunney, G. S. Baby X revisited. Sex Roles 1980, 6 67–73.Google Scholar
  26. Smith, P. K., & Daglish, L. Sex Differences in parent and infant behavior in the home. Child Development 1977, 48 1250–1254.Google Scholar
  27. Weinraub, M., Clemens, L. P., Sockloff, A., Etridge, T., Gracely, E., & Myers, B. The development of sex role stereotypes in the third year: Relationships to gender labeling, gender identity, sex-typed toy preference, and family characteristics. Child Development 1984, 55 1493–1503.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrée Pomerleau
    • 1
  • Daniel Bolduc
    • 1
  • Gérard Malcuit
    • 1
  • Louise Cossette
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire d'étude du nourrisson, Département de psychologieUniversité du Québec à MontréalMontréal, P.Q.Canada

Personalised recommendations