7 MARCH 2019

Read our latest press release announcing the launch of our Commission on Gender Stereotypes in Early Childhood here. Find out how you can get involved with the project and feed in your experiences here.

Gender Stereotypes in Early Childhood: A Literature Review

Gender Stereotypes in Early Childhood: A Literature Review comprises a review of academic evidence on gender stereotyping from 0-7 years old.

Findings of this work and accompanying polling included:

  • 45% of people said that when they were children, they experienced gender stereotyping as they were expected to behave in a certain way.
  • More than half (51%) of people affected saying it constrained their career choices and 44% saying it harmed their personal relationships.
  • Half of all women affected (53%) said gender stereotyping had a negative impact on who does the caring in their own family. Older women were particularly affected by this.
  • 7 in 10 younger women (18-34s) affected by stereotypes say their career choices were restricted
  • 46% of people agreed government should take action to challenge gender stereotyping.
  • Parents with new babies and young children inadvertently reinforce gender stereotypes creating a ‘gendered world’ through toys, play, language and environment.
  • Teachers differently reward boys’ and girls’ behaviour, and representations in children’s stories are often stereotyped.
  • By age two children are aware of gender and, as early as six years old, children associate intelligence with being male, and ‘niceness’ with being female.
  • Children whose friendship groups emphasise traditional gender stereotypes have lower wellbeing.

The research also identified key interventions, particularly aimed at younger children, which work to challenge and change gender norms and mitigate against the harms seen in later life.

  • Children’s literature that challenges gender norms can undo children’s previously held perceptions
  • Whole-school approaches to gender stereotyping have demonstrated positive results
  • In Sweden challenging gender stereotypes is an explicit requirement of the school curriculum.

Download Gender Stereotypes in Early Childhood: A Literature Review here