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Gender Roles Effects on Children Development


Many aspects of children education affect their development. One of these aspects is the way in which they are taught about gender roles. Gender typing refers to the process through which children acquire certain values, behaviors, and attitudes that are ascribed to either of the two genders (Banks and McGee Banks 139). Children acquire gender-based beliefs due to the influence of gender stereotypes. Gender stereotypes are usually based on gender roles that children are taught in school, and made to practice at home.

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In their early childhood years, children adopt certain gender identities due to the influence of their parents and teachers. In addition, they adopt various gender preferences that shape their development during adolescence and adulthood. It is important for teachers to desist from incorporating gender stereotypes and gender roles in the education of children (Banks and McGee Banks 139). On the other hand, it is important to incorporate roles and tasks that are gender-neutral in order to avoid influencing the development of children in negative ways.

Gender identity and development

During their early development years, children adopt gender roles and behaviors that define their gender identity. One of the most common influences is education. Many teachers teach children to adopt specific roles and identities because they are either boys or girls. Development of gender identity starts at home before children attend school. Before the age of three years, many children possess the ability to differentiate between activities and behaviors that are meant for boys and girls.

This promotes adoption of certain behaviors and attitudes by boys and girls. As a result, boys play more aggressive games while girls play less aggressive games. Gender identification intensifies when children attend school during their middle childhood. Children develop behaviors that are gender-based because of the stereotypes they learn at school, and that consequently adopt (Robles de Melendez and Beck 74). For example, girls observe the activities of their mothers and adopt them, while boys adopt the activities of their fathers. This also applies to behaviors and attitudes. In order to change these stereotypes and promote balanced child development, it is important to provide non-biased education. Education should be free of stereotyped gender roles and activities.

In many cultures, there are established standards that determine desirable gender roles and behavior. For example, males are required to be assertive, competitive, aggressive, independent, and active. On the other hand, females are required to be passive, quiescent, sensitive, emotional, and supportive (Banks and McGee Banks 143). When these standards are incorporated into education systems, they influence the development of children. They thus play critical role in determining the future of children with regard to their perception of gender roles in the society. It is import to desist from teaching children about gender roles and behaviors because it limits their potential and scope with regard to what they can achieve (Robles de Melendez and Beck 75).

Gender bias in education systems

Education is an important developmental aspect that determines the adoption of gender-based roles and behaviors in children. Teachers have a responsibility to teach children in ways that do not promote fixed behaviors and roles with regard to gender. For example, teachers should desist from classifying behaviors and roles based on gender. When children enter school, they receive the same quality of education. However, certain aspects influence their development with regard to gender roles. Gender bias in education refers to the different ways in which teachers treat boys and girls (Robles de Melendez and Beck 77).

Examples of gender bias in education include ways in which teachers respond to male and female students, division of disciplines based on gender, and the depiction of the male gender as superior in learning materials. In many schools, boys are given more responsibilities and attention because they are considered as superior to girls. For example, boys are encouraged to take mathematics and sciences like physics, and chemistry while girls are encouraged to take humanities like arts, languages, and literature (Robles de Melendez and Beck 78). Such practices introduce bias in the education that children receive. They learn to associate simple tasks with the female gender and complex tasks with the male gender.

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There is need for revision of school curriculums in order to eradicate gender bias in education. One of the areas than needs review is socialization of gender in schools. Currently, the socialization of gender in many schools creates the impression that girls are inferior to boys. This is evident from the ways in which teachers treat boys and girls. On the other hand, certain behaviors are allowed for boys only because of the mythical statement, “Boys will be boys.”

Despite recent research studies that reveal that girls are performing better than boys, the socialization scheme has remained unchanged (Robles de Melendez and Beck 79). Teachers should avoid socializing girls towards feminine ideals because they compromise their potential and abilities. The current socialization structure encourages boys to be active and independent while it encourages girls to be popular and quiescent. Gender stereotypes and roles should be discouraged in education. Students should be encouraged to assume all roles and avoid classifying their activities and tasks based on gender.

How to eradicate gender bias in education

First, the current structure of gender socialization should be changed. Boys and girls receive different forms of education because of the gender socialization they undergo (Jyotsna and Page 86). Boys and girls should be taught that they are equal and have the same potential for achievement. Teachers should particularly focus on the plight of girls because they are the most affected. Girls should be encouraged to pursue mathematics and science disciplines because they possess the ability to perform well.

Second, education systems should incorporate gender-neutral aspects when teaching children. This can be achieved in various ways. Teachers should use learning materials that laud the achievements of women (Jyotsna and Page 88). Many learning materials are founded on the achievements of men. For example, a large percentage of books used for instruction in high schools and colleges are dominated by theories and studies that were developed by men. Incorporating learning materials that show the achievements of women in fields such as science, athletics, management, and leadership will help to avoid gender stereotyping. Third, teachers should accord equal attention to both girls and boys, and encourage girls to pursue disciplines that are considered as masculine. Instructors should learn to eradicate their own bias towards gender roles and stereotypes in order for them to make a difference in their students.

In addition, they should distribute their time, attention, and energy equally between male and female students (Jyotsna and Page 91). On the other hand, instructors should avoid classifying students based on their genders because it affects them adversely. Finally, all students should be allowed to perform all types of tasks and activities regardless of the gender stereotypes associated with them. For example, girls should be encouraged to take part in all types of games and athletic activities. Tasks, roles, and activities should not be classified based on gender, and all children should be accorded equal opportunities for development in all areas of learning and instruction (Jyotsna and Page 95).


Aspects such as gender roles and stereotypes affect child development in various ways. The type of education that children receive plays an important role in shaping their perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors with regard to gender. Children adopt different gender roles and behaviors due to gender typing. Gender typing refers to the process through which children acquire certain values, behaviors, and attitudes, which are ascribed to either of the two genders. Children acquire certain beliefs due to the influence of gender stereotypes.

For example, women are believed to be quiescent, weak, emotional, and sensitive. As a result, girls pick and adopt these traits from their parents and teachers. However, this should not be the case because gender stereotyping limits children with regard to their potential and capabilities. Gender neutrality in both education and child development practices should be encouraged in order to eradicate any bias that could affect their development. Education should be used to eradicate gender bias. This should involve consideration of critical aspects like socialization of gender, choice of disciplines that children pursue, and components of curriculums that are related to gender.

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Children should be encouraged to pursue activities or disciplines of their choice, not because they are related to their gender but because they are interested in them. This helps to eradicate the negative effect of stereotypes and gender roles on children. Learning materials that encourage gender segmentation should be discarded and replaced with materials that promote a balanced depiction of the achievements of both genders. Children should be protected from the negative influence of gender stereotyping. Education plays an important role in child development. Therefore, it should be free of gender stereotyping and gender roles because they make children adopt certain ideals that limit their talents and capabilities.

Works Cited

Banks, James A., and Cherry A. McGee Banks. Multicultural Education: Issues and Perspectives. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2009. Print.

Robles de Melendez, Wilma, and Versa Beck. Teaching Young Children in Multicultural Classrooms: Issues, Concepts, and Strategies. New York: Cengage Learning, 2010. Print.

Jyotsna, Jha, and Elspeth Page. Exploring the Bias: Gender and Stereotyping in Secondary Schools. London: Commonwealth Secretariat, 2008. Print.

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