Becoming Gendered

  • Heidi M. GansenEmail author
  • Karin A. Martin
Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)


Children establish an understanding of gender and gender identity during early childhood development. In this chapter, we focus on the foundational early years of becoming gendered; infancy to early elementary. We explore the social practices that lead us to become gendered and the role of socializing agents in these early stages of becoming gendered. Specifically, we provide an example of the dynamism in the gender structure by analyzing how both the interactional level and the macro level impact the individual development of gendered selves. Parents gender their children before they are born and as children age, parents teach children how they are to perform their gender. Children also receive gendered messages from their peers and schools, as early as preschool. While families, peers, and schools play a significant role in children becoming gendered, children are also saturated in gendered media and gendered consumption. We also look at how sexuality is constructed with, or as part of gender within these early becoming gendered processes. Lastly, we close this chapter with a discussion, including comments about needed future theoretical and empirical work on becoming gendered.


Gender Childhood 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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