Sex Roles and Gender Bias in Early Childhood Education Essay example

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Sex role stereotyping and gender bias permeate everyday life. Children learn about sex roles very early in their lives, probably before they are 18 months old, certainly long before they enter school.(Howe, 1). The behaviors that form these sex roles often go unnoticed but their effect is immeasurable. Simple behaviors like: the color coding of infants (blue & pink), the toys children are given, the adjectives used to describe infants (boys: handsome, big, strong; girls: sweet, pretty, precious), and the way we speak to and hold them are but a few of the ways the sex roles are introduced. These behaviors provide the basis for the sex roles and future encouragement from parents and teachers only reinforce the sex roles.

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In literature research, "the boys of children’s books are active and capable, and the girls passive and in trouble" (Howe,2).

In a mental health study conducted by Inge K. Broverman at Worcester State Hospital in Massachusetts, it was discovered that the qualities more considered healthy were those that are stereotypically male behaviors. Women exhibiting these socially desirable behaviors were; however, not considered healthy. Socially desirable male behavior Includes: aggression, independence, logic, confidence and ambition. Female behavior was passivity, dependence, cooth and empathy (Howe, 3). It has also been observed that despite any noticeable differences, girls are provided with fewer experiences "even in kindergarten" (Howe, 5). The junior high school and high school programs further accentuate the sex roles. Courses such as shop, metalworking, home economics and typing often have gender requirements (Howe, 6).

Another school arena for open sexual discrimination is physical education. The boys are often given priority in terms of equipment, gym availability and funding for athletic activities (Howe,6).

Howe continues to discover more and more ways
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