Last Updated 22 Jun 2020

Gender Socialization

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It has been said that men are from Mars and women are from Venus because the two genders are so different. In reality, everyone is from Earth, but men and women do have different ways of communicating. Through much research, many differences have been found including how girls and boys are socialized, nonverbal cues, and how these differences can lead to misunderstandings and conflict.

Socialization Between the Gender

As children grow up, boys and girls are socialized differently. "Childhood interaction, sex and status roles, and society dictate the way a male will communicate in comparison to a female" (Cinardo 2011). Gender role socialization begins at birth. According to Basirico, Cashion and Eshleman (2014:180), when a baby is born, he or she is wrapped in a blue or a pink blanket: from that moment on, parents respond to the infant on the basis of its gender.

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School can also teach gender roles in other ways. Children receive subtle messages about the capability of men and women as they observe the jobs they hold (Basirico et al. 2014:181). For example, most teachers are women, but many principals and superintendents are men. This could potentially lead girls to think that they will never be as good or on the same level as their male counterparts.

Gender socialization can also happen on the playground. Children play mainly in same-sex groups, and this contributes to their socialization because they tend to segregate themselves into these playgroups when they have a choice of playmates (Basirico et al. 2014:183).

TRANSITION [Research found that] children did not form groups based on like interests. Koppelman (2017:50) states that boys tend to play outdoors, typically in competitive games that require groups and involve aggressive behavior; they resolve disputes by engaging in debates in which everyone participates.

In contrast, girls tend to play indoor types of games in small groups or with a friend; these games involve conversation and collaboration, and a quarrel will usually disrupt the game (Koppelman 2017:50). The result of playing in same-sex group is that girls are socialized to act like girls and boys are socialized to act the boys (Basirico et al. 2014:183). Whether the girls were passive or aggressive, or a follower or leader, they played with other girls; the same was true of boys (Basirico et al. 2014:183).

Once in the playgroup, however, girls learn to behave in "socially binding ways" while boys behave "competitively" (Basirico et al. 2014:183). As they learn how to get along with others of the same sex, girls especially are less interested in playing with those of the opposite sex because their socially binding norms are less influential and powerful than the competitive norms of boys; when girls do play with boys, girls become passive, or unassertive, timid, or they become a follower (Basirico et al. 2014:183).

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