Children With Disabilities Express Less Concrete Gender-Based Biases:
Social Development of Gender Perceptions from Preoperational to Formal Operational Stages
Keywords:children, disability, gender, stereotype
Abnormalities with processing social concepts as children may display with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Nonverbal learning disorder (NSLD). The purpose of the study was to observe how children with disabilities and nondisabled children viewed gender stereotypes. Images of gender-advertised toys and clothing items were utilized to determine gender-biases held by preschoolers (ages 3-6), upper-elementary level students (ages 10-12), and high school level students (ages 15-18). This project raises awareness of cultural stereotypes in society and their impact on childhood perception development. 177 students were shown images of gender-advertised clothing and entertainment items and asked to categorize each object as a boy, girl, or both. Students with disabilities had less gender bias compared to their nondisabled counterparts. The children in all groups had increased stereotyped responses to clothing items as opposed to toys. The preschoolers displayed the most stereotypical responses, the upper-elementary schoolers responded with the least biased responses as they had gained more exposure to toy and clothing options, and the highschoolers solidified their opinions with moderate stereotypes, notably in clothing items. Presenting increased non-stereotypical opinions, there was a significant difference in gender perception in students with disabilities. The difference in responses to gender perception between students with and without disabilities assimilated in all categories by high school age, meaning there was no significant difference in gender perception by this stage.
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