Wendy or Tinkerbell? How the Underrepresentation of Girls Impacts Gender Roles in Preschool Special Education

By Manwaring, Joanne S. | Teaching Exceptional Children, May/June 2008 | Go to article overview

Wendy or Tinkerbell? How the Underrepresentation of Girls Impacts Gender Roles in Preschool Special Education


Manwaring, Joanne S., Teaching Exceptional Children


In a public elementary school in the southeastern United States, a self-contained class of prekindergarten children with disabilities is playing with PlayDoh. As the children are molding and shaping the modeling compound, the only girl is helping the boys press shapes into their Play-Doh. She flutters around the other children showing them how to use the various shapes and encouraging them to roll and press the Play-Doh. The class comprised 10 boys and 1 girl. When questioned about the disparity in gender because of concern for the lone girl, the teacher commented, "Oh, she does okay, she mothers all the boys." In another classroom in the same school district, the single girl in a class of nine boys struggles to articulate her fantasy role model. The children are talking about their desire to be superheroes, vying for adult attention and pointing to their shuts to help illustrate their words describing popular cultural icons such as Superman, Batman, and Spiderman. The boys' exuberant, combined voices dominate the discussion and the adult listeners' attention is drawn to reinforcing the boys' use of language and participation in a discussion. Meanwhile, the little girl is overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the boys but persists in attempting to be an active participant in the discussion. Many times she tries to enter the conversation repeating the same phrase of which only the word "bell" is understandable. Despite many attempts and prompts from the adults for more information, her words are not understood and she never gets to be a part of the discussion. Later, when the children are acting out their favorite superheroes, one of the adults puts all the clues together to finally comprehend that the little girl was saying, "Me Tinkerbell." These incidents underscore the underrepresentation of girls in preschool special education self-contained classes, leaving them with almost no same gender friends or peers and thereby limiting them to the single role of motherly "Wendy" as they struggle to identify themselves as "Tinkerbell."

Historically, boys have outnumbered girls in special education. Across the developmental age span, the prevalence rates indicate that boys are more often identified with a disability than girls with a rate of 12% for boys and 8% for girls, respectively. This 4% difference does not account for the 33 % difference in enrollment in special education [American Association of University Women, AAUW, 2006). In one large school district in the southeastern United States, this disparity in enrollment has resulted in preschool self-contained special education classes of predominately male students. The scope of this article is to discuss the underrepresentation of girls in these special education classes and the impact it has on their development. These classes are a distortion of social reality and place girls with disabilities at risk for appropriate language, peer, and play models. One of the greatest criticisms of separate, self-contained special education classrooms is the lack of peer role models, which has prompted a push toward more inclusive environments for preschoolers. Gallagher (2006], among others, reported increased social interactions by children with disabilities when taught with typical peers in inclusive environments and confirmed that typical children help to foster social interactions. Therefore, in these particular self-contained preschool classes, not only are opportunities for typical peer interactions lacking but same gender peer interaction even between girls with disabilities is not available. This lack of same gender role models for preschool girls with disabilities and the long-term impact on their developing social skills and self-esteem may not be noticed in the education world (Colwell & Lindsey, 2005; Maccoby, 1990).

Little research has been conducted on gender and disability and gender roles in self-contained separate special education classes. Recently the disproportionality of students of color and older girls in special education has come to the attention of the public [Oswald, Best, Coutinho, & Nagle, 2003). …

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 ...
Default project is now your active project.
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

Wendy or Tinkerbell? How the Underrepresentation of Girls Impacts Gender Roles in Preschool Special Education
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
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

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.