What is gender schema theory? Gender schema theory was formally introduced by Sandra Bem in 1981 as a cognitive theory to explain how individuals become gendered in society, and how sex-linked characteristics are maintained and transmitted to other members of a culture. Gender-associated information is predominantly transmuted through society by way of schemata, or networks of information that allow for some information to be more easily assimilated than others. Bem argues that there are individual differences in the degree to which people hold these gender schemata. These differences are manifested via the degree to which individuals are sex-typed. It concerns the development of an internal schema, or mental framework, which organizes and directs the behavior of an individual as a male or female. For example, the gender schema of being female might include the proposition “I am a girl, so I play with dolls, not trucks.”
As every person should know male and female children become “masculine” and “feminine”, and mainly at a very young age. By the time they are four years of age, for example, girls and boys are typically come to prefer activities defined by the culture as appropriate for their sex and also to prefer same-sex peers. The acquisition of sex-appropriate preferences, skills, personality attributes, behaviors, and self-concept is typically referred to within psychology as sex-typing.
When children are younger, including me, parents tell the girls don’t play with cars, those are for boys. Girls play with dolls, and because you are a girl you must play with dolls, and vice versa for the males. The children gain and follow this information as they go on they are being punished or rewarded for their actions. For example, the girl will stop playing with the toy car, and won’t be yelled at by her parents for playing with a boy’s toy. As the years go by they believe all of this is true because people tell them it is and their culture also tells them this so they continue with this information.
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