Gender Socialization in Childhood

When a healthy child is born, the parents’ first question is typically about whether it is a girl or a boy. The child’s gender is commonly marked through the assignment of a gendered first name and by dressing the child in pink or blue clothing. Gender-based categorization and differential treatment become increasingly pervasive means for organizing children’s socialization. This entry reviews some of the major research findings on this topic during the childhood years (approximately from birth to 12 years of age). As with most psychology research, these studies have been conducted primarily in Western industrialized countries. First, the processes involved in gender socialization are summarized. Afterward, a few important targets of gender socialization and their consequences on children’s development are highlighted.

Gender Socialization Processes

Contemporary research ...

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