Caryl Rivers, one of the authors of “The Truth about Girls and Boys,” wrote a terrific post on BlogHer last week which received a good amount of buzz. Her article, “6 Ways You Can Avoid Gender Stereotypes of Your Kids,” highlighted practical strategies for parents backed by some solid research. The post dispelled myths about brain development and gender, encouraged parents to be mindful of their own expectations for their children’s interests and abilities, and promoted the importance of exposing children to a variety of experiences. These tactics to “fight back against toxic stereotypes and help girls and boys discover all their talents so that they can follow their dreams wherever they may lead,” got me thinking about something else parents and teachers can do to combat gender stereotypes – we can minimize our use of gender labels and limit how often we use gender to organize groups.
In 2010, researchers at Penn State University wanted to see if purposefully making gender salient in preschool classrooms for two weeks would change kids’ attitudes about each other. Continue reading