Early preschool environments and gender: Effects of gender pedagogy in Sweden

J Exp Child Psychol. 2017 Oct:162:1-17. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2017.04.014. Epub 2017 May 25.


To test how early social environments affect children's consideration of gender, 3- to 6-year-old children (N=80) enrolled in gender-neutral or typical preschool programs in the central district of a large Swedish city completed measures designed to assess their gender-based social preferences, stereotypes, and automatic encoding. Compared with children in typical preschools, a greater proportion of children in the gender-neutral school were interested in playing with unfamiliar other-gender children. In addition, children attending the gender-neutral preschool scored lower on a gender stereotyping measure than children attending typical preschools. Children at the gender-neutral school, however, were not less likely to automatically encode others' gender. The findings suggest that gender-neutral pedagogy has moderate effects on how children think and feel about people of different genders but might not affect children's tendency to spontaneously notice gender.

Keywords: Attitudes; Children; Encoding; Gender; Socialization; Stereotypes.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Gender Identity*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Schools*
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Environment*
  • Stereotyping*
  • Sweden
  • Teaching*