Socialization Into Gender Barbara J. Risman (1998)
Gender Socialization • Children are socialized to behave in gender-defined roles • Living in a gendered and sexist society differently prepares boys and girls for adulthood. • Boys are socialized to work in teams and compete. • Girls are socialized to value nurturing.
Gender Socialization • Socialization happens in children’s play and in their families • Boys’ games are more likely to be outside, involve teams, and be age-integrated. • Girls are more likely to play make-believe games with one or two others, and to quit the game instead of working through conflict. • Parents participate in gender-typing by rewarding gender-typical play and punishing gender-atypical play.
The Pink and Blue Project JeongMee Yoon
Children in Fair Families • More families are moving toward shared parenting and more liberal gender socialization for children. • Risman examines how children in egalitarian families fare in a gendered society. • Egalitarian (Fair) Families • Gender does not dictate who does what or who has more power • Parents share household responsibilities • Parents share child care responsibilities
The Interviews • Risman interviewed 21 children from egalitarian families. • Three formats • 4- to 6-year-olds: interview questions resembling stories • 7- to 10-year-olds: interview questions, poem writing, free-play • 11-year-olds an up: open-ended and written questions • Research Question: How do these children negotiate gender, given their atypical parents?
Ideology • 16 of the 21 children entirely adopted their parents’ egalitarian views of gender • Most of the children were true believers in the capabilities of men and women to perform the same jobs and family roles.
Ideology – Interview Quotes • “I told you I think anybody can do these jobs…I think that saying just men or women could do these jobs isn’t being equal.” – 9-year-old boy • “I don’t think that it is the least bit fair that in most places males have the main power. I think that women play an important part and should be free to do what they want to do.” – 9-year-old girl • “It’s probably easier being a guy. At least it is now because of stereotypes and prejudices and everything.” - 15-year-old boy
Experiences • When their ideology contradicts their experiences as boys and girls, life wins hands down. • When family experiences collided with peer experiences, the family influences were dwarfed. • The children know that men and women are equal; it is boys and girls that are totally different. • None of the 4- to 6-year-olds have begun to believe that boys and girls are different; this is not true for most children in mainstream families
Experiences - Poem If I were a girl I’d have to attract a guy wear makeup; sometimes. Wear the latest style of clothes and try to be likeable. I probably wouldn’t play any physical sports like football or soccer. I don’t think I would enjoy myself around men in fear of rejection or under the pressure of attracting them. - 8-year-old boy
Identity • “All-girl” girls and “All-boy” boys • Only 6 of the children have identities that fit their stereotyped notions about childhood gender. • Androgynous preferences • 15 children cross gender lines in interests and interpersonal style. • All the girls are more feminine than masculine and all the boys are more masculine than feminine.
Conclusion • Three themes resulted from the interviews and observation • 1) The parents are very successful at transferring their ideological values to their children • 2) The children’s experiences at school have taught them that boys and girls are not similar, nor do they think they should be. • 3) Identities seem more dependant on experiences with peers than from ideology. • The children growing up in egalitarian families are happy, healthy, and well-adjusted. • Changing families alone does not allow children to escape gender socialization; effective social change requires collective action and alliances across families, schools, and friendship networks.