Gender stereotypes in UK children and adolescents: changing patterns of knowledge and endorsement

Lara A. Wood*, Jacqui Hutchison, Mhairi Aitken, Sheila J. Cunningham

*Corresponding author for this work

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    Abstract

    Across two studies, we investigated gender stereotype knowledge and endorsement in UK schoolchildren, and their impact on academic subject choice. In Study 1, children aged 9–11 (N = 68) and 13–15 (N = 61) completed a newly developed Gender Attribute scale assessing their knowledge and endorsement of gender stereotypes relating to academic subjects and occupations. Participants demonstrated gender stereotype knowledge and endorsement, although significantly higher knowledge than endorsement scores indicated a level of stereotype rejection. Stereotype knowledge was greater in the older age group, and older girls showed significantly higher levels of stereotype rejection than all other groups. In Study 2, children aged 13–15 (N = 165) completed the Gender Attribute scale and provided information on their school subject choices. Patterns of stereotype knowledge and endorsement followed those of Study 1. Subject choice information showed that boys selected significantly more masculine than feminine subjects, while girls chose a similar proportion of each. Further, boys’ level of gender stereotype endorsement predicted their subject choices, while girls’ did not. We suggest that in contemporary UK some progress is being made in relation to girls challenging stereotypes that work against them but that more work is needed to encourage boys into female-dominated disciplines.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)768-789
    Number of pages22
    JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
    Volume61
    Issue number3
    Early online date14 Dec 2021
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2022

    Keywords

    • Adolescents
    • Careers
    • Children
    • Development
    • Gender
    • Schools
    • Stereotypes

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