When it comes to gender, the first influence the children experience is that of their parents. Looking at the roles of mother and father, a child learns to associate himself with the family member who is either male or female. In many cases, parents themselves foster the development of the gender identity of a child, buying boys’ or girls’ clothes and toys that are believed to be proper for a child’s gender. Sometimes but not always, this initial gender socialization is underpinned by the natural inclinations of children. Thus, boys are usually found more opinionated while the girls are complacent.
Gender patterns are instilled not only by family members but also by friends, educators, and teachers. Even if, for example, parents reject such attitudes as much as possible, children will undoubtedly be influenced or even pressured by classmates, teachers, and other people from their environment. Further agents of socialization are societal institutions that treat boys and girls differently (Santrock, 2007). The dominant forms of teaching, as a rule, rely on different ways of communicating with boys and girls and manifest themselves in such behaviors and styles of interaction that are far from the model of cooperation and partnership style of interaction (Santrock, 2007). Starting from preschool age, teachers encourage boys to self-expression and activity, and girls to obedience and diligence, neat appearance.
Art plays a huge role in gender socialization: in films, books, magazines, music, males and females are constantly opposed. In most cases, compliance with gender stereotypes is portrayed as the only possible course of things, and if it is violated, it is presented as something exceptional or ridiculed. Even advertising, with rare exceptions, broadcasts traditional gender attitudes.
At school, I witnessed many examples of gender socialization. I noticed that many teachers, when evaluating mistakes made by boys, speak about the lack of diligence, while with girls, they tend to see it as a personal failure. Moreover, when we talked about successful people at lessons, most of the people discussed were men; the role of women was underrated. The uniforms worn at schools are one more example of gender socialization, as girls are usually ordered to wear skirts or dresses that are considered girls’ clothes, while boys are to wear trousers.
Santrock, J. W. (2007). A topical approach to life-span development, 10E.