A Statistical Investigation into the Prevalence of Gender Stereotyping
in 5-7 year olds and the Development of an Initiative to Combat Gender Bias.
Gender stereotyping negatively impacts on emotional development, mental health
and career choices. Does gender bias exist in 5-7 year olds and what can be done to
Over a 4 week period we held workshops with 376 senior infant and first class pupils
across 5 schools (co-educational and single sex). We devised participatory research
activities to gauge the pupil’s views on various aspects of gender stereotyping:
- Choosing favourite toy.
- Linking emotions/feelings to gender.
- Rating the competency of males/females in STEM/Non-STEM occupations.
- Rating STEM/Non-STEM subjects.
- Draw an engineer (male/female).
- Future job preferences.
We uploaded our data set on SPSS and ran cross tabulation tables by class, gender,
school type and location. We ran ANOVAs and where the p values were less than 0.05
we ran Post Hoc Tests to determine which specific groups showed a statistically
- 95.6% of boys drew a male engineer, while 56% of girls drew a female
- 66% of all pupils (boys and girls) felt that boys were angrier than girls.
- Over 60% of boys believed that females cry more than males.
- Boys rated male competency higher than female competency across all 4
- Girls had a more positive view of boys’ ability than vice versa.
- There were statistically significant differences between mixed and single sex
schools mean rating of male/female ability to perform different jobs.
- Pupils in single sex schools were more likely to link emotions/feelings to a
particular gender than pupils in co-educational schools.
- The majority of both boys and girls gave a high enjoyment rating to both STEM
and Non-STEM subjects.
- The gender neutral toy was the most popular choice in boys/mixed schools.
Based on our results as outlined above, we conclude that gender stereotyping exists
in 5-7 year olds in all areas investigated. Some statistically significantly differences
exist between school type. To combat gender stereotyping, we have gathered
resources to be used in schools as part of Aistear and SPHE (Social Personal and
Health Education) curricula that explicitly target gender bias including:
- Website with online resources for teachers/parents.
- A classroom audit to help promote non gender bias.
- Strategies for portraying positive male/female role models.
- Schedule of age appropriate books that challenge gender stereotypes.