Children are socialized at an early age to fit into societal norms; as they develop they are taught acceptable ways to express their gender identity and also the different expectations society places on boys and girls as they come into adulthood.
Dr. Juliet Muasya and Mr. Isaac Muasya; Education Researchers from the School of Education; University of Nairobi conducted a study on Children's Perceptions of Gender Identity and Stereotype in Public Pre-Primary Schools in Nairobi County, Kenya. The study explored ways in which children perceive gender identity and stereotypes by using their daily experiences and interactions while in school and at home. The researchers conducted in-depth interviews with pupils from 10 public schools in Nairobi County. 20 children (10 boys and 10 girls) aged between 5 to 6 years were interviewed.
The data collected shows that children are able to different between ‘boys & girls’ and ‘men & women’ based on types of clothes, shoes (high heels for female teachers) length of hair, accessories and toys. Researchers also established that “Children express their gender identity by associating and imitating with friends of the same gender” children prefer to play with those of the same gender. In addition, research shows that boys and girls like to play with materials that are gender specific with boys preferring to play with bicycles and balls whie girls prefer to play with dolls and skipping rope.
Teachers and mothers greatly influence how boys and girls perceive their gender identity and stereotype and they need to encourage children to “explore roles outside the traditional roles in order to minimize stereotypical portrayals of gender roles, thus enhance achievement gender equality.”
In conclusion, it is important to note that in order to bridge the gender gaps experienced by boys and girls, it is critical to deal with gender bias, stereotype and discrimination during the early years of a child's life. Relevant policies and programmes should be put in place especially in teacher education in order to empower teachers to help children deal with gender stereotypes. Full article HERE
Juliet Muasya, Isaac Muasya, A Study of Children's Perceptions of Gender Identity and Stereotype in Public Pre-Primary Schools in Nairobi County, Kenya, International Journal of Elementary Education. Vol. 9, No. 1, 2020, pp. 1-7.