Although gender stereotyping and role conformity often arise among kids in social situations, several strategies have been proposed which can help reduce the problem. Children are under constant pressure to be popular and to conform to their peer classes. Working out realistic situations in a secure and controlled schoolroom is a suitable way to prepare students for situations which may arise in the future. This brief describes eight strategies that can be used to reduce gender stereotyping and gender role conformity in children while providing an example of each.
The first method involves allowing children to select among various toys and activities. Parents, teachers, and guardians should encourage kids to select various activities and toys based on their interests rather than gender appropriateness. This choice provides kids with a broader array of experiences while combating gender stereotypes. For example, when female children are allowed to play with car toys, it may inspire them to like cars and become engineers and drivers rather than leaving these roles for males only.
The second technique is to avoid transmitting gender stereotypes regarding areas of achievement. Those who spend much time with kids, especially in school, should avoid gender stereotypes regarding areas where boys and girls are good at. Instead, they should encourage children that high effort enhances proficiency in all areas. For example, females children should be told that they are not disadvantaged in mathematics. This inspiration can enable males and female children to obtain equal grades in various disciplines.
The next strategy entails teaching kids to appreciate the differences among people.
Children who live in families where individual differences are emphasized are more likely to have reduced stereotypical attitudes and behaviors. For example, a father making positive remarks about another man due to their differences, may encourage his children from adopting stereotypical attitudes and behaviors related with their own genders. Avoiding unnecessary references to gender and gender stereotypes in utterances also reduce this problem. Evading generic labels and utterances prevents children from viewing same-sex persons as the same and accommodating gender stereotypes. For example, instead of saying, ‘most girls like art’, one should say, ‘Susie likes art.’ Identifying people by their names discourages children from generalizing a habit to a particular gender and giving them the idea that the habit can be found in either gender.
The fifth method to reduce gender stereotyping and role conformity in children is to offer non-gender-stereotyped models. This entails allowing children to attend non-stereotyped activities conducted by adults. It also involves exposing children to adults in non-stereotyped occupations, a process which stimulates kids’ awareness of the various choices that are available to them. For instance, when children meet adult female engineers, it may give them the idea that the profession is not entirely for male gender. The sixth strategy is to emphasize the complexity of gender groups. By recognizing the ability of a certain gender group, children get to know of their potential and the prospects that exist out there. For instance, guardians and teachers should use comments like ‘some boys are good at science, and some girls are good at maths.’ Such comments enlighten kids that individual performance is determined by ability and interest instead of gender.
The seventh strategy for reducing gender stereotyping and role conformity in children is planning for mixed-sex interaction. Parents, teachers, and guardians can arrange for social gatherings where children interact with other children of different sex. It has been shown that kids who are given the opportunities to participate in joint undertakings with opposite-sex peers are less likely to develop gender typecasts. For example, parents can organize a birth-day party, where they invite their friends’ kids of either sex. When kids gather, play, and interact together, it makes them less likely to develop stereotypes since they will be looking at other sexes as themselves.
Discussing gender biases with children is the last strategy for reducing gender stereotypes. Parents, teachers, and guardians have a role to share certain social roles with their children. Such explanations help children to understand the source of bias and how to reject justifications based on distinctive sex differences. For example, a parent can explain to their children that any gender can serve as president. This conversation can encourages their children of either gender to ignore explanations suggesting otherwise. Therefore, those who spend more time with children should discuss gender biases with children to enlighten them on how to identify such biases and how to reject them.
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