Education Blog

Gender Stereotypes: Boy Get This Much Over Girl

September 23, 2021

American families continue to perpetuate gender stereotypes while parenting. Daughters being raised in a different way from their sons might not be in awareness of parents. It is the case when they’re last-minute gift shopping. Cultural norms and religious beliefs could might relate to gender parenting.

As with many aspects of parenting it is important to look beyond the prescriptive advice. You can examine your own motivations and beliefs to find insights. This can help you become a better parent. Parents can find balance by examining the gender differences in parenting.

Stereotypes In Spatial Language

Dr. Shannon Pruden, and Dr. Susan Levine’s 2017 study in Psychological Science studied spatial behavior. The study shows that way parents talk about objects varies depending on which gender they are speaking to. Researchers observed 58 families and found that they used more spatial terms and dimensional adjectives for boys than girls. For example, fathers are more likely than girls to describe a ball in terms of “a little circle with curving edges” to their sons.

This type of talk was important for development, according to the analysis. Parent’s previous spatial-language use between 14 and 26 months was tied to gender differences in toddlers’ spatial talk.

The authors point out that although the gender difference in the number and meaning of the unique spatial words children hear and produce is not significant. Despite all this, it could be meaningful. The children which spoke more about the spatial world had higher spatial skills as per authors findings. It links to success in science, technology engineering, mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

Parents Are More Likely to Roughhouse With Boys

A group of researchers led Dr. Jennifer Mascaro published in 2017 their findings. The findings included paternal behavior and brain responses to male children and female children. In a larger study of paternal caregiving, there were some interesting findings. Children aged 1 or 2 were observed with about sixty nine heterosexual and biological fathers. Research published in the journal Behavior Neuroscience revealed about roughhousing and rough-and-tumble play (RTP). It is more common with parents than it is with daughters.

There is a surprising believe researchers have. They think that parents roughhouse their boys are more concerned with helping them develop emotional intelligence rather than physical dominance. Researchers conclude that RTP involves forceful and dynamic behaviors such as tickling and poking. These can be considered hostile under many circumstances but can be understood as part of a social context. These behaviors require entrain empathy and emotion regulation.

It’s important to note that boys are more likely to play rough and tumble with their parents than girls. Fathers often initiate physical play, rather than mothers. This type of play seems to help children develop emotional flexibility and the ability to manage their emotions.

The Toys in Boy’s Bedroom Conform to Gender Norms & Stereotypes

The way parents play is different for boys and girls. It also includes the toys that parents give their children. Dr. David MacPhee surveyed 75 preschool rooms in the United States and compiled a list of toys. The June 2019 issue of the journal Sex Roles got his research published. It revealed significant gender differences in toys that parents gave to boys and girls. These results are consistent with the gender-typing discovered in a 1975 landmark study by Rheingold and Cook.

McFee discovered that boys’ bedrooms had 15 times as many action figures as girls’ rooms. There were also significantly more outer-space toys for dramatic play and props that used guns, tools and machines as well as marvel cards such as spidey sense. The only one toy category was of sports equipment with the gap found. The gap between what was found in children’s bedrooms and what was not has been significantly narrowed over the almost five decades that separated the studies.

McFee suggested that children will request gender-type toys based on their experiences outside the home. This is a reason why there has been so little change. McFee also suggested that income from the family could play a part. He writes that “we speculate that low-income parents might be more concerned with whether their children have toys to use and less about whether they conform to gender stereotypes.”


It is difficult to break cycles as ingrained as gendered parental behavior. It takes awareness and energy, as well as resources, to create countercultural environments. Even then, children and parents are more likely to fall back into the current norm by companies and groups that profit from existing stereotypes.

It is asking parents to critically evaluate their parenting paradigms and how they play out. This also requires them to consider how children are influenced by media and school settings. Parents should have more tools to use the growing body of research that describes how boys and girls parent differently.