Children at Swedish 'gender-neutral' preschools are less likely to gender-stereotype

May 29, 2017

A new study from Uppsala University in Sweden has indicated that the norm-conscious practices used by teachers at preschools termed "gender-neutral" are associated with reductions in children's tendencies to make gender-stereotypical assumption. The practices are also associated with children's increased interest in playing with unfamiliar peers of the opposite sex.

A number of Swedish preschools have attracted international attention for their pedagogical practices aimed at reducing differences in the opportunities available to children of different genders. These practices include de-emphasising gender differences, for example by using the recently coined Swedish gender-neutral pronoun, and avoiding behaviour towards children that traditionally would be gender specific, for example not complimenting girls on their clothes.

Despite this international interest, till now there was no study evaluating the effects of these practices on children's behaviour by comparing them with children attending more traditional preschools but matched in other demographic factors.

When shown pictures of unfamiliar peers by the researchers, children attending a gender-neutral preschool made fewer gender-stereotyped assumptions about them, and were less likely to show no interest in playing with them when they were of the opposite sex.

Because gender-neutral schools are rare even in Sweden, the sample size was small, meaning that although there is statistical confidence in the effects' existence, it is not possible to estimate with confidence how strong they are. Children's families had chosen the preschools their children attended, raising the issue of whether differences in family background caused the effects. However, when families who reported choosing their preschools because of gender-related aspects of pedagogy were removed from the sample, the effects remained.

Children at the gender-neutral preschool were not less likely to notice the gender of unfamiliar children, however.

'Together the results suggest that although gender-neutral pedagogy on its own may not reduce children's tendency to use gender to categorise people, it reduces their tendency to gender-stereotype and gender-segregate, which could widen the opportunities available to them', says Dr. Ben Kenward, researcher at Uppsala University and Oxford Brookes University.
-end-


Uppsala University

Related Children Articles from Brightsurf:

Black and Hispanic children in the US have more severe eczema than white children
A presentation at this year's virtual American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting reveals the disparities that exist for Black and Hispanic children when it comes to Atopic Dermatitis (AD), commonly known as eczema.

Black children with cancer three times less likely to receive proton radiotherapy than White children
A retrospective analysis led by investigators from Brigham and Women's Hospital has found racial disparities in the use of the therapy for patients enrolled in trials.

The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health: First Europe-wide study of children confirms COVID-19 predominately causes mild disease in children and fatalities are very rare
Children with COVID-19 generally experience a mild disease and fatalities are very rare, according to a study of 582 patients from across Europe published today in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal.

Children not immune to coronavirus; new study from pandemic epicenter describes severe COVID-19 response in children
- While most children infected with the novel coronavirus have mild symptoms, a subset requires hospitalization and a small number require intensive care.

How many children is enough?
Most Russians would like to have two children: a boy and a girl.

Preterm children have similar temperament to children who were institutionally deprived
A child's temperament is affected by the early stages of their life.

Only-children more likely to be obese than children with siblings
Families with multiple children tend to make more healthy eating decisions than families with a single child.

Children living in countryside outperform children living in metropolitan area in motor skills
Residential density is related to children's motor skills, engagement in outdoor play and organised sports. that Finnish children living in the countryside spent more time outdoors and had better motor skills than their age peers in the metropolitan area.

Hispanic and black children more likely to miss school due to eczema than white children
In a study that highlights racial disparities in the everyday impact of eczema, new research shows Hispanic and black children are more likely than white children to miss school due to the chronic skin disease.

Children, their parents, and health professionals often underestimate children's higher weight status
More than half of parents underestimated their children's classification as overweight or obese -- children themselves and health professionals also share this misperception, according to new research being presented at this year's European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Glasgow, UK (April 28-May 1).

Read More: Children News and Children Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.