"Peter Pan Isn't a Girls' Part": An Investigation of Gender Bias in a Kindergarten Classroom

By Wellhousen, Karyn; Yin, Zenong | Women and Language, Fall 1997 | Go to article overview

"Peter Pan Isn't a Girls' Part": An Investigation of Gender Bias in a Kindergarten Classroom


Wellhousen, Karyn, Yin, Zenong, Women and Language


In 1992, The American Association of University Women published the report How Schools Shortchange Girls, which described discrepancies in the way girls and boys are educated in America's schools. Failing at Fairness.' How Schools Cheat Girls (Sadker & Sadker, 1994), soon followed with a thorough review of 20 years of research supporting the existence of gender inequities which begin in preschool and continue through higher education. Both of these publications brought national attention to the issue of gender bias in schools. The authors supported this claim by reviewing the research which can be categorized into three areas: teacher-student interaction, instructional materials, and instructional strategies. A review of these findings is presented here along with the research on the negative impact of gender bias.

One of the most powerful contrasts between the education of boys and girls is the quantity and quality of teacher-student interactions. In academic situations, boys are called on more often and are given more time to answer (Wellesley College Center for Research on Women, 1992; Sadker & Sadker, 1994), boys are asked more higher-level questions (Handley & Morse, 1984), boys receive higher quality interactions with teachers including praise and remediation, and they are challenged to find solutions to problems while teachers volunteer to assist girls (Sadker & Sadker, 1994). Gender-biased language and non-verbal communications used by both male and female teachers send distinct messages about gender roles to students. In nonacademic situations, teachers tend to assign classroom duties by gender, with girls more frequently assigned the role of helpmate (Grant, 1983). Also, girls are complimented on their hairstyles, dress, and neatness in school work rather than on academic accomplishments (Sadker & Sadker, 1994).

Gender inequities in schools continue to be perpetuated through gender stereotyped resources, instructional materials (Scott & Schau, 1985), and instructional strategies. Examples of bias in instructional resources include an absence or exclusion of females from books (Women on Words and Images, 1975, 1976; Weitzman & Rizzo, 1976; Applebee, 1989), stereotyping both sexes, degradation of girls, and isolation of materials which related to women (Hall, 1988). Gender biased language, which distorts students' perceptions of reality (Scott & Schau, 1985), continues to be used in published materials. Even though textbook publishers have authors' guidelines for using non-sexist language, the guidelines are not enforced (Wright, 1985). Design of classroom activities and specific teaching strategies can also be biased in favor of boys. There is a tendency for teachers to choose activities, presentation formats, and teaching strategies which appeal more to boys than girls (Fennema & Peterson, 1985; Greenberg, 1985).

Gender bias in the classroom has a documented negative effect on children. Girls become less involved and undemanding of teacher attention (Spender & Sarah, 1980; Sadker & Sadker, 1994). They may experience a diminished self-esteem and lack of confidence which results in lower levels of achievement (Wellesley College Center for Research on Women, 1992). Girls may limit career goals to traditional, domestic and nurturing careers, which are typically low-wage earning. Males are also shortchanged in gender biased classrooms as they are pressured to conform to male roles, some of which may be physically or emotionally harmful (Sadker & Sadker, 1994) and experience a decrease in nurturing related behaviors (Berman, 1986). They also develop a negative image of females in which they are viewed as being less capable (Sadker & Sadker, 1994).

Gender bias is so prevalent in American society and classrooms that it often goes undetected. In the fast-paced exchange between teachers and students, it is difficult to discern biased comments and actions.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

"Peter Pan Isn't a Girls' Part": An Investigation of Gender Bias in a Kindergarten Classroom
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.