Sex Roles

, Volume 47, Issue 1–2, pp 39–49 | Cite as

The Impact of Parenting Experience on Gender Stereotyped Toy Play of Children

  • Eileen Wood
  • Serge Desmarais
  • Sara Gugula


The purpose of this study was to examine gender role socialization as a function of parenting experience in an actual toy play situation and as a function of adults' perceptions of typically gender-stereotyped children's toys. Each of 48 children (24 boys and 24 girls) played with 3 adults: either his or her own mother or father, a matched mother or father of another child, and a matched man or woman who was not a parent. The amount of time children and adults played with gender-specific toys, adults' categorization of toys into gender categories, and adults' desirability ratings of gender-specific toys were examined. The gender-sorting task revealed that adults did not agree with traditional “expert” categorizations of some of the toys, which suggests a shift in the perceived function of some traditionally stereotyped toys. Regardless of how parents sorted toys into categories, when playing with boys, most time was spent with masculine toys. With girls, however, there was greater flexibility in the categories of toys with which they played. Parenting experience influenced the perceived desirability of toys; parents found toys more desirable than nonparents but these differences did not affect the actual play session with children. These results suggest a change in perceptions of traditionally stereotyped toys and differences as a function of gender in what is appropriate gender-typing behavior.

toy play gender stere otypes gender role socialization 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eileen Wood
    • 1
  • Serge Desmarais
    • 2
  • Sara Gugula
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyWilfrid Laurier UniversityWaterlooCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada

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