· In your current position (e.g., professional, student, husband, wife, partner), reflect how you may have used language that promotes gender stereotypes: In my current position as a young professional, I go out on many job interviews or at least meet with likeminded companies to build business relationships. I work with children and their families so often times our professional discussions revolve, respectfully, around the home structure of others. I was in an interview this morning where the individual continuously mentioned mothers instead of fathers. I found that this is a common error many professionals make in that women are often the care takers.
· Consider how language we have heard in everyday life promotes gender stereotypes. Think about language that may promote gender stereotypes: I think that everyday language has a strong impact on how we view gender stereotypes as far as how advertisements are structures, how tv families attempt to model everyday life, how questions are asked to us. I spend a lot of my time making phone call as well, I can’t remember the number of times a telemarketer has called asking “Hi, may I speak to your manager, is he in?” The assumption that my manager is a man is a gender stereotype many can relate to.
· Determine the audience who you would like to learn this information: I would specifically like that parents learn and understand the impact of their gender stereotypes, expectations, and language used with their children. I think children idolize their parents and will do nearly anything to be like them. It is important for other caregivers to practice this awareness as well but there is nothing that will match the impact that comes from a parent.
Thinking back to some of my recent actions and choices in the work place where I encourage children to do their best, I may have spoken differently female students than I had male students. Many times I mention to the boys comments along the lines of “You’ll rock those exercises today!” Whereas the girls I believe I take a more tender approach and typically say “Wow, sis you’re doing so well, keep it up!” Just as was mentioned in the text, often times teacher don’t realize they “are conveying messages of stereotypical gender behavior through interactions” such as language (Derman-Sparks, Olsen Edwards, 2010).
I feel that initially the impact this selective language has on gender identity and development is minimal. Studies such as Crosnoe report support the notion that earlier in life children tend to compare themselves to their peers regardless of gender (Crosone, Riegle-Crumb, Field, Frank, Muller). I find that in the older children that I work with there is more a “gender divide” in that the girls are more aware of their comparison to their male counter parts. Because of the nature of where I work, there are academic/analytical aspects as well as physical/strength aspects, both areas that each gender can excel. However, through language choice regarding different gender stereotypes, such as, “you did well at that chin up, for a girl” does not help bridge the gap. Just as was briefly mentioned, the language which separates the genders, male and females based on stereotype only makes my job harder. Female students will not excel because of a sense of “self ful-filling prophecy” where in they are told they can only do so well, so they will only try so hard. I fell that alterations in language can help open the door regarding gender stereotypes. For both male and female students, a “sky’s the limit”- open ended approach the certain aspects of language can only help them achieve all that they possibly could be.
Derman-Sparks, L., & Olsen Edwards, J. (2010). Anti-bias education for young children and ourselves. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.90-100
Crosnoe, R., Riegle-Crumb, C., Field, S., Frank, K., & Muller, C. (2008). Peer group contexts of girls’ and boys’ academic experiences. Child Development, 79(1), 139–155.
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Describe and analyze the examples of language you might have used in the past that promote gender stereotypes:
An example of language that may have promoted gender stereotypes would be being told things like “sit like a lady” or “act like a lady”. These phrases were mostly used when out in public. Being that I was the only girl growing up, I would play with the boys a lot, and by being around them so much I picked up on some of the things they did. I quickly realized that I would get a very different response from my parents when I would mimic the behaviors the boys did. I remember one day we were at a restaurant, and my brothers were throwing the paper from straws at each other. I thought it looked pretty funny and tried it myself, when my mother saw me throwing the paper balls with the boys, she pulled me to the side and told me that little girls should be seen on their best behavior and shouldn’t participate in the behaviors that boys do. I feel like this teaches girls that they cannot participate in the same things as boys because boys and girls have to act different from each other.
Explain the influence such language might have had on gender identity formation in that specific case.
It is very common for parents to have these ideas of what behaviors are acceptable for their daughters versus their sons. Early on girls are encouraged to show more nurturing characteristics while boys may be ridiculed if they showed the same behavior.
Explain the potential impact of gender stereotyping language on the development of children and adolescents with whom you work.
According to Derman-Sparks (2010), around age 3 children begin to form ideas about their behavior, activities, as well as toys that they think are acceptable for their gender. Being that I would with children on the autism spectrum communication and behavior is a big deal. Depending on where a child is on the spectrum I feel that there may be a disconnect with their awareness of self. I believe that gender stereotyping may make it harder for them to identify with activities or methods that they may find enjoyable.
Derman-Sparks, L., & Olsen Edwards, J. (2010). Anti-bias education for young children and ourselves.
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