"Just as good": Learning gender stereotypes from attempts to counteract them.
2021; 57 (1): 114–25
How do children learn gender stereotypes? Although people commonly use statements like "Girls are as good as boys at math" to express gender equality, such subject-complement statements subtly perpetuate the stereotype that boys are naturally more skilled. The syntax of such statements frames the item in the complement position (here, boys) as the standard for comparison or reference point. Thus, when the statement concerns ability, listeners infer that this item is naturally more skilled than the item in the subject position (here, girls). In 2 experiments, we ask whether subject-complement statements could not only reinforce preexisting gender stereotypes, but also teach them. The participants were 288 adults (51% women, 49% men) and 337 children ages 7 to 11 (50% girls, 50% boys; of the 62% who reported race, 44% self-declared as White; from primarily middle-class to upper middle-class families). Participants were provided with subject-complement statements about either novel abilities (e.g., "Girls are as good as boys at trewting") or nonstereotyped activities (e.g., "Boys are as good as girls at snapping"). Both adults and children inferred that the gender in the complement position was naturally more skilled than the gender in the subject position. Using subject-complement statements to express gender equality (e.g., "Girls are as good as boys at math") could thus backfire and teach children that boys have more natural ability. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).
View details for DOI 10.1037/dev0001143
View details for PubMedID 33382327