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01/22/2010

Gender Differences

The body says what words cannot.
Martha Graham

When we had our first child, Amy, we were bound and determined not to promote gender stereotypes.  So early on we bought her a big red toy truck... which she proceeded to ignore throughout her childhood.  We were crushed and tried to figure out what we did wrong.  Now Lise Eliot, author of Pink Brain, Blue Brain (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009), provides some insights in Work & Family Life (January 2010):

"Boys between two and five, raised in the U.S., Europe, Japan or probably anywhere else, overwhelmingly select toy trucks, cars, and balls when they're given a choice of one of those over a doll.  Three-year-old girls opt strongly for baby dolls, toy kitchen utensils, or a toy beauty set.

"These gender-typical toy preferences emerge somewhere around the first birthday.  Though small differences are present at birth, the gap between boys and girls widens tremendously between the ages of two and six, with some differences becoming more stark than they will be at any later time in life....

"Should we resist stereotypes by changing the toys kids play with?  Many parents have tried.  But given trucks, it's not unusual for girls to turn them into families — and for boys to play catch with dolls.

"Even so, we can find toys and activities that will encourage members of each sex to practice skills that they tend to avoid.  This means giving girls more balls, puzzles, big cardboard boxes, and sidewalk chalk.  And we can use boys' fascination with dinosaurs, astronomy, heavy machinery, and soldiers to get them reading, coloring, and communicating with others."


Exchange Resource on Gender Issues
 
Check out Exchange's 16-page Beginnings Workshop on "Gender Issues."  Articles in this unit include:



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