Truth Behind Gender Stereotypes


Once upon a time you could pretty much expect pink packages at baby showers for girls and blue ones for boys. It was simply accepted that your little girl would love dolls and be horrible at math while your little boy would make truck sounds in his sleep and struggle to express his emotions. Of course, with the arrival of modern thinking about gender stereotypes, so much of that has changed. But while we may be right in thinking that not all girls dream of being mothers or all boys automatically gravitate towards war toys, there are some elements in the old school thinking that we are beginning to discover are not as far off as we first thought.

Hard Wired at Birth

The feminist revolution brought with it new ways of looking at gender identity. We began to think that perhaps these tendencies towards male and female roles were simply acquired because of social pressures. But as the technology for understanding the brain improved, a startling thing was discovered. It began to look as if the differences in how men and women think, one of the gender stereotypes we thought could be altered, is actually because of physical differences in the brain. A recent article in Psychology Today outlined the differences discovered and why we experience them. Of course, the question still remains, how much of our social expectations come from these physical differences and how much are simply a result of cultural training?

Boys and Their Toys

So how much of our gender stereotypes about boys are connected to this finding? Well, recent studies at the University of Cambridge showed that boys will respond to mechanical movement over human movement. They are more likely to engage in physical play over chatting. They are also more likely to be attracted to a film that has action rather than talking. All of this explains why boys love their toys, especially anything that requires action, motion and interplay where competition pays off for them. It is hard-wired in their brains.

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

On the other hand you may have noticed that your little girls are more likely to be good listeners, love to mimic and talk with their friends and family. This is because girls, studies have shown, are more attuned to sound and love human voices. This is why you will find they are more into one on one time with mom, and will talk their brothers ear off.

Getting Beyond Old Gender Stereotypes

But don’t be discouraged by these findings, they are after all only talking about the overall trends. Just as we will always have little boys who love to dress up or tell stories, we will also always have little girls who are quiet builders who excel in math. Life is full of unexpected surprises, the biggest of them always our own children.

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