Gender Roles and Stereotypes

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Girls are supposed to play with dolls, wear pink, and grow up to become princesses. Boys are suppose to play with cars, wear blue, and become firefighters and policemen. These are just some of the common gender stereotypes that children grow up to hear. Interactions with toys are one of the entryway to different aspects of cognitive development and socialism in early childhood. As children move through development they begin to develop different gender roles and gender stereotypes that are influenced by their peers and caregivers. (Chick, Heilman-Houser, & Hunter, 2002; Freeman, 2007; Leaper, 2000)

Play is frequently used to asses cognitive and social development because it is cost-effective, can lead to direct interventions, and can be used to supervise progress. (Kelly-Vance & Ryalls, 2008) According to Blakemore, Berenbaum, and Liben (2009) cognitive development can be assessed by cognitive- environmental and developmental- constructivist approaches. Cognitive- environmental refers to the influence that parents and peers have in modeling gender appropriate behaviors. Developmental- constructive refers to the process that children use to create their own concepts of gender and gender-appropriate behaviors.

Though both genders seem to spend the same amount playing, boys and girls differ in several aspects of play. Girls tend to engage in more socio-dramatic play that includes higher levels of play sequence than boys. Girls also play in a more scripted way with toys. (Cherney & Dempsey, 2010; Cherney, Kelly-Vance, Glover, Ruane & Ryalls, 2003) Both play sequence and scripted play determine play complexity therefore the intricacy of play depends on the gender of the toy. (Cherney & Dempsey, 2010; Cherney et al., 2003) this in...

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... W., & Mize, J. (2001). Contextual Differences in Parent--Child Play: Implications for Children's Gender Role Development. Sex Roles, 44(3/4), 155-176.

Miller, C., Lurye, L., Zosuls, K., & Ruble, D. (2009). Accessibility of Gender Stereotype Domains: Developmental and Gender Differences in Children. Sex Roles, 60(11/12), 870- 881. doi:10.1007/s11199-009-9584-x

Trautner, H. M., Ruble, D. N., Cyphers, L., Kirsten, B., Behrendt, R., & Hartmann, P. (2005). Rigidity and flexibility of gender stereotypes in childhood: Developmental or differential?. Infant And Child Development, 14(4), 365-381. doi:10.1002/icd.399

Zosuls, K. M., Ruble, D. N., Tamis-LeMonda, C. S., Shrout, P. E., Bornstein, M. H., & Greulich, F. K. (2009). The acquisition of gender labels in infancy: Implications for gender-typed play. Developmental Psychology, 45(3), 688-701. doi:10.1037/a0014053
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