Gender-stereotyped Attitudes and Behavior in Kindergarten Students

By Margit Kanka, Petra Wagner, Barbara Schober and Christiane Spiel.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

From the first day of life, children are exposed to gender-stereotyped environment (e.g. Golombok & Fivush, 1994). Despite some slight differences, there is a common idea about what is typically “male” or “female” across cultures and children are raised upon those beliefs (Wiliams & Best, 1990). By the age of three, children recognize their own sex (Kohlberg, 1966) and which behavior patterns are “appropriate” for being a boy or a girl. Compared to former studies, it is the intention of this study to add knowledge on gender-stereotypism in children by (1) focusing on gender-stereotyped attitudes and gender-stereotyped behavior patterns, by (2) studying kindergarten children, and taking into account the perspectives from children and parents. For data collection in children a new test instrument–which children would experience as an exciting game–was developed whereas parents’ data were collected by questionnaires. In the present study, 89 kindergarten students (46 girls and 43 boys), aged 2;10 through 6;05 years, and 67 parents participated. Results showed a trend in higher gender-stereotyped attitudes in boys than in girls. While responses concerning gender-stereotyped behavior were nearly identical for boys and their parents, girl’s responses were less stereotyped than those of their parents. Thus, boys are still showing more gender-stereotyped attitudes and behavior than girls whereas girls are already open-minded about different sex roles and more modern–non-traditional–views. With regards to the results of the present study, sex roles, traditional and progressive perspectives, should not only be part of the kindergarten curriculum but also part of parental education. Parents and kindergarten teachers hence would not only need more “hands-on material” (like games) but also the awareness that there are differences in boys and girls and how to perfectly handle them without treating their children in a gender-stereotypical way.

Keywords: Sex Roles, Gender-stereotypy, Attitudes, Behavior, Gender Differences, Preschool Age, Kindergarten Students

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp.291-304. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.016MB).

Margit Kanka

PhD Student, Department of Economic Psychology, Educational Psychology, and Evaluation, Faculty of Psychology, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria

Margit Kanka is Psychologist and PhD-candidate at University of Vienna, Faculty of Psychology. As an HR Development Specialist with a main focus on Diversity Management, Margit Kanka founds great interest in how gender-stereotyped attitudes as well as gender-stereotyped behavior are developed in early childhood.

Petra Wagner

Professor of Psychology, School of Applied Health and Social Sciences, Faculty of Psychology, Upper Austria University of Applied Sciences, Linz, Linz, Austria

Petra Wagner is Professor for Psychology at Upper Austria University of Applied Sciences, School of Applied Health and Social Sciences with a broad experience in psychological research as well as teaching. She made her PhD at the University of Vienna. In 2009 she achieved her postdoctoral lecture qualification at the University of Vienna. Her research focuses on self-regulation, scholastic stress factors, time management, gender differences in educational contexts, and evaluation. She has published many articles with educational and evaluative topics.

Barbara Schober

Professor of Economic Psychology, Educational Psychology and Evaluation, Department of Economic Psychology, Educational Psychology and Evaluation, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria

Barbara Schober studied Psychology at the University of Bamberg (Germany). After her PhD at the University (LMU) of Munich, she came to Vienna in 2001. In 2007 she achieved her postdoctoral lecture qualification at the University of Vienna. Presently she holds the position of an extraordinary professor at the University of Vienna, Faculty of Psychology. Her research focuses on learning motivation, self-regulation, teacher training, development and evaluation of intervention programs, gender differences in educational contexts and is published in various international journal articles.

Christiane Spiel

Professor of Educational Psychology and Evaluation; Department Head, Department of Educational Psychology and Evaluation, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria

Christiane Spiel studied Mathematics, History and Psychology at the University of Vienna. After several professional stations she presently is full Professor for Educational Psychology and Evaluation and head of the Department of Economic Psychology, Educational Psychology and Evaluation at the University of Vienna. She is an expert in the fields of evaluation and educational psychology and her present research interests focus on lifelong learning, violence prevention, social relations in multicultural school contexts, gender stereotypes, and evaluation. She’s author of numerous journal articles dealing with educational and evaluative topics.

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