Short Answer

There is a large body of research which addresses gender stereotyping and the impact such stereotyping has on a wide range of behaviors. As a child develops in the context of gender specific messages, that child’s choices of ways to respond may be constricted to match the stereotype. For example, the chapter here discusses various theories underlying gender segregation in friendships.

Consider the following, before compiling a short written response (1-2 paragraphs, roughly 200-400 words) to the questions below.
1. Read the article by the Medical Research Council of South Africa highlight some of the research on

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2. Watch the older cartoon version of a book written for children about a boy wanting his own doll

3. Read this letter by a 7-year-old to Lego and this article in response to a Goldiblox commercial.

1. In your own words, based on 1-3 above, how do you understand the idea of gender? What is the difference between gender identity and gender roles? What theories regarding the influences of gender segregation make the most and least sense to you?

2. According to the article, what is the meaning of androgyny? What are the advantages of raising a child to be androgynous? What is the meaning of the expression “rigid gender stereotyping?” What is the relationship between rigid gender stereotyping in childhood and subsequent adult behaviors? In your opinion, how might more flexible, non-stereotyped gender schemes affect the culture in the future?

3. How does the cartoon of William challenge the gender culture? What was your reaction to the dramatization of William holding a baby doll? What does your reaction tell you about your view of stereotypical gender schemes?

4. Put all this together, and consider for a minute how gender cultures not only influence the way in which children play, but also the way in which the toy industry conceive of their products. In your opinion, how does the toy industry contribute to gender constructs? What advice would you give someone shopping for a toy for a young child, knowing all you have learned about gender?

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