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Sunday, 20 July 2008

Stereotype:How parent explain science to boys more than they do to girls

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Where do children learn stereotype? Although a child’s peer group and teachers are important, parents play an especially important role in the development of sex stereotypes. For example, parent tend to encourage and reward their sons for playing with ‘’masculine’’ toys such as cars ans strucks and objects such as baseballs and footballs. Parents encourage boys to generate gross motor activity whereas they are more soothing and calming with baby girls.

Parents also tend to encourage and reward their daughters for engaging in ‘’feminine’’ activities that promote dependence, warmth and sensitive, such as playing house or hosting a make believe tea party. Parents who do not encourage or reward these kinds of stereotypical activity tend to have children whose attitudes and behaviour reflect fewer sex stereotypes

In supposedly ‘’ masculine’’ academic subjects, girls are perceived as performing less well than boys. Many reasons have been suggested for the discrepancy but one of the most frequently cited is socialization: that is, parents and teachers are more likely to engage boys in science and scientific explanations than they are girls.

In an ingenious experiment to test this hypothesis, Crowley sought the permission of parents visiting a Californian children’s museum to film and record their interactions with their children as they made their way around the exhibitions. Data were collected from 298 interactions between mothers and fathers and their daughters and sons on 26 days over 30 months period. Conversations were rated according to whether they involved explanations, descriptions of or directions for exhibitions.

The researchers found that parents were more likely to explain exhibits to their sons than to their daughters. If the behavior of parents helps shape the behavior of their children, the researchers suggest that this disparity could have a significant effect on the child’s interest in and knowledge of science

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