First Advisor

Kathryn A. Farr

Term of Graduation

Summer 1998

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Sociology






Sex role, Preschool children, Sexism in preschool education, Parental influences, Socialization



Physical Description

1 online resource (vii, 119 pages)


Because there are different sets of attitudes and standards that are applied to girls and boys, and because society is permeated with messages delineating the differences between females and males, there is a rapid accumulation of knowledge by children about those differences. There is a need for further examination of the overall impact of different facets of gender socialization.

The purpose of the present study was to clarify the ways in which parental beliefs and practices as well as daycare environment affect the gender-typing of preschoolers. Seventy-nine children from three different preschools were interviewed using Likert, forced-choice, and open-ended items. Their parents were surveyed using questions relating to their attitudes and behaviors around gender. The head teacher from each classroom study site was interviewed about how and what kinds of gender messages are presented at school.

This study sought to test the following hypotheses: 1) Girls will be less gender-typed than boys; 2) Mothers will have less traditional gender attitudes than fathers; 3) Younger children will be less sex-typed than older children; 4) Children in gender-progressive daycare environments will be less gender-typed than children in gender-traditional daycare environments; and 5) Children's degree of gender-typing will be positively associated with their parents' degree of gender-typing.

Of the five hypotheses tested, two were supported, two had mixed findings, and one was not supported. Boys exhibited significantly less flexibility than girls in toy preferences. Mothers had less traditional scores than fathers on the paired toy preference task, and differentiated less between girls and boys than did fathers. It appears that the children's toy preferences were not strongly influenced by preschool gender issue consciousness. The analysis of parents' toy preferences showed that mothers had toy preferences that were very different from those of their sons, but ones that were relatively similar to those of their daughters. When the preferences of daughters and sons were analyzed together, the correlation with their fathers' preferences was highly significant. Although correlations between age and gender flexibility scores did go in the expected direction for both girls and boys, they were not statistically significant.


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