Gender Identity In Childhood, By Barbara Martin

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Researchers question whether or not gender identity is based off of biology or if society is what conforms a person into the typical idea of male or female. Gender identity is the understanding someone has about being female or male. Social interactions, social norms, and gender stereotypes influence the way males and females behave throughout the stages of life: childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Parents are a primary influence during childhood. As the child enters their preteen phase and adolescence, primary and secondary groups such as teachers, are major influences on male and female development. Knowledge of gender develops through social interactions. People act according to how they have been raised, or how they have interacted…show more content…
Barbara Martin spent two years observing young children, especially during their playtime. Martin sees that children grasp their gender roles by imitating older kids and are influenced by their peers along with the praise of their teacher. According to Children at Play: Learning Gender in the Early Years, the belief that boys should be masculine and girls should be feminine is supported by society and media and further upheld in certain aspects of education (Martin 305). Martin states that the children portray the idea that jumping rope is for girls and playing football is for boys. Therefore, girls want to succeed in jumping rope and want to receive praise for their skills, and boys hope for the same with football. Martin also observes that due to the color pink being considered feminine, young boys would avoid being associated with anything of that color because they knew that it did not represent boys or masculinity (Martin 305). Also, Martin observes that boys and girls will keep each other from crossing those gender roles and will make sure that their peers are following the gender expectations they have learned. Martin observes a boy who finishes his snack early and begins to play at the water tub before the other kids finish their snacks. The boy begins washing a baby doll as his mom does with his younger sibling. When a little girl goes to play…show more content…
These role expectations have molded people to act in a specific way to fit in with the norms of our environment. When men or women go against the norms of our environment they could be viewed as dysfunctional towards society. Stereotypes can become second nature and are rarely noticed while being enforced. Parents and teachers may praise gender behaviors without being aware that they are enforcing a stereotype. This could include a teacher having the girls help clean the classroom while boys attend recess. Barbara Martin believes that these actions taken by teachers can hinder the development of gender equality (Martin 306). Barbara Martin finds that children understand the idea of society’s expectations of their gender at a young age, which results in peers making sure all classmates follow the gender expectations (Martin 306-307). Children stay in their expected roles, but are more likely to try to cross gender roles when in private or with the opposite sex (Martin 307). As previously stated, academic stereotypes occur in our society as well. It has been a belief that males will be better at “masculine” subjects such as mathematics and science, while females will be better at “feminine” subjects such as literature and art. Academic stereotypes can cause females to lack confidence and can turn them off to careers where math and science is involved.

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