• Summary
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Some teachers believe that gender doesn't matter to young children, some believe that good early childhood practice produces equity for all and others believe that pursuing gender equity compromises relationships with parents. Glenda MacNaughton confronts these common myths and shows that even very young children are clearly aware of gender roles, whether they are playing among themselves, listening to stories or interacting with adults.

Rethinking Gender in Early Childhood

Education reveals how the focus on individual development that is promoted in early childhood education doesn't produce gender equity. Rather, everyday teaching practices influence the gendering of young children's identities. Glenda MacNaughton draws on theory and research to explain this and to develop approaches, which open up new possibilities for both boys and girls.

We've Been Doing Gender Equity for Years—What's New?
We've been doing gender equity for years—what's new?
  • Tasha: What subject are you choosing for your elective?
  • Robert: Gender issues in early childhood education.
  • Tasha: That's a bit old hat isn't it? Very 1970s. We've been doing gender equity for years. Surely there's nothing new to say!
  • Robert: I thought it might help me rethink what I'm doing now. I'm really struggling to make gender equity a reality in my kindergarten group.

Tasha's reaction to gender equity programs is not unusual. Many early childhood educators share her view that ‘it's all been done before’. Several members of the research group shared this view initially. However, after testing out familiar gender equity strategies, they changed their views. Like Robert, they often felt despondent ...

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