Sex Roles

, Volume 76, Issue 7–8, pp 498–510 | Cite as

Preschool Teachers’ Facilitation of Gender-Typed and Gender- Neutral Activities during Free Play

  • Kristen L. Granger
  • Laura D. Hanish
  • Olga Kornienko
  • Robert H. Bradley
Original Article


Understanding how preschool teachers facilitate children’s engagement in gender-typed and gender-neutral activities is important given that engagement in gender-typed activities is differentially linked to the development of skills connected to later academic achievement. Thus, facilitation of children’s engagement in gender-typed activities may contribute to emergence of gender differences in later educational outcomes. The current study used a teacher-focal observational coding system to investigate research questions about the frequency with which teachers facilitated feminine, masculine, and gender-neutral activities with same- and mixed-gender groups during free-play. Participants were 37 female teachers of Head Start classrooms in the U.S. Southwest (M years teaching preschool = 10.57, SD = 6.85, range = 2–27; 75.6 % completed at least a bachelor’s degree). Results revealed that feminine activities were facilitated less often than were masculine and gender- neutral activities during free play. Results also revealed variability in teachers’ facilitation of feminine, masculine, and gender-neutral activities, depending on the gender composition of the students with whom teachers were interacting (i.e., boys-only, girls-only, and mixed-gender). Implications for educational, developmental, and gender research are discussed.


Preschool teachers Classroom behavior Childhood play behavior Gender-typing Human sex differences Educational toys Group composition 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristen L. Granger
    • 1
  • Laura D. Hanish
    • 1
  • Olga Kornienko
    • 1
  • Robert H. Bradley
    • 1
  1. 1.T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family DynamicsArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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