Studying middle school or adolescence children, it has become evident that there are three main constructs which may give the explanation how children realize their gender cognition. Therefore, it is worth mentioning that key elements of this process are gender identity, stereotypes, and self-perception of gender-typed attributes. In middle childhood, children begin to express their gender cognition through gender-specific role behavior. According to research, there are different development theories of gender cognition, but all of them agree that children`s gender identity motivates them to behave according to specific stereotypes of the same gender (Ruble et al., 2006). On the other hand, children’s gender stereotypes are based on their self-perception and gender identity. However, other scholars underline that gender self-perception and stereotypes influence gender identity. Most scholars agree that different children of the same sex have different sex-typed behaviors.
Significant Dimensions of Gender
In order to learn gender studying middle school or adolescence children, the gender self-socialization model was used. This model is based on the study of three hypotheses, i.e. gender stereotype, gender identity, and attribute self-perception. Studies have shown that children of the middle school period through their adolescence guide their thinking about gender in different ways. Researchers, who are using GSSM, try to identify attributes that differentiate gender by consensus judgments or empirically. Further, these attributes are used as standards that are individual for each child. It is essential to understand how gender operates in the children`s minds (Rubin et al., 2006). In middle childhood, gender identification becomes more established than in pre-school period. During this time of life, children are prone to express their gender identity through specific gender behavior, for example, family role and household tasks. Investigation asserts that middle school children begin to identify their own gender through activities, occupations, and traits. Thus, gender identity is considered to be positive when children strongly identify themselves with their own gender. Respectively, gender identity may be considered to be neutral and negative in case when children identify themselves equally with both sexes or more strongly with the opposite sex.
Gender stereotype helps children to behave according to their sex. The ages of middle childhood and adolescence are a time when children start to consolidate a set of gender cognition. This process, especially gender identity and gender stereotypes, affects them during the transition into adolescence that brings with it new gender-related challenges such as sexual interests and the way how to manage them. Therefore, most children are not certain how to behave appropriately. For example, those boys who believe that men should make the decisions for women would have difficulties in the future when dating girls.
Different Aspects of Gender Cognition
According to research, there are different aspects of gender cognition which affect gender behavior. For example, gender identity is usually affected by biological and environmental factors. Such factor as relationships between parents and children is very important for children’s future behavior. Gender stereotypes are usually formed by the help of children’s observations of men’s and women`s divergent behavior (Rubin et al., 2006). Moreover, children in middle childhood and adolescence period are strongly influenced by the identification with men and women in their lives, for example, parents, teachers, and grandparents. Thus, children incorporate different features into their own value system and personalities. They are also influenced by the certain environmental and social factors such as movies, sports authorities, and their peers. Most theorists and investigators agree that biological and environmental factors are rather important in the formation of children’s behavior. For most children, contentment with one’s gender is a source of self-esteem.
It is worth mentioning that due to individual differences, children in their middle childhood and adolescence behave differently; therefore, they feel different or similar of their own gender. There are different reasons for that. For example, children may be influenced by social attributes, social comparisons, and interaction. All these factors make the contribution into their gender behavior. Children become more conscious of their gender in adolescence when they start to interact with the opposite sex (Ruble et al., 2006). Children learn how to behave appropriately in order to realize how to function comfortably in society and environment. Social behavior, for example, reflects varying degree of dominance, dependency or aggression. Children in middle childhood and adolescence period are involved into interactions with the opposite sex that affects their gender identity and self-perception. Due to different stereotypes, boys, for example, may consider that when they are with their girlfriends, they are superior. Both boys and girls are expecting from opposite sexes to behave according to different stereotypes; for instance, boys may be sure that after dinner, women have to clean up, or on a date, the boys are supposed to pay for the girls.
In conclusion, it is worth mentioning that it is in childhood when people begin to feel differences in gender. Children in middle childhood and adolescence period create a casual cognitive system that identifies their gender behavior according to their individual differences. Individual differences in gender stereotypes help guide children’s self-perceptions of specific attributes.
The primary role of gender identity is to motivate children to behave according to the specific attributes that influence their gender identity. It is important to understand that different children of the same sex have different sex-typed behaviors.
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