How does school influence our gender roles?

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Gender roles are influenced by schools for a number of reasons. Consider early childhood settings and kindergarten classrooms. There are often play areas and learning centers that are distinguished through traditionally gender-specific ideas and norms. In many cases, these play areas have an impact on the abilities of children. For...

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Gender roles are influenced by schools for a number of reasons. Consider early childhood settings and kindergarten classrooms. There are often play areas and learning centers that are distinguished through traditionally gender-specific ideas and norms. In many cases, these play areas have an impact on the abilities of children. For example, girls will typically fare better than boys in their ability to write neatly. This is because it is more likely that girls play in ways involving fine motor skills such as dressing dolls or fixing hair, while boys often play in ways involving gross motor skills such as throwing and kicking balls. While teachers may not directly encourage these differences, they are not often discouraged either. In elementary settings, whether implicitly or explicitly, teachers often play a role in enforcing those gender-specific roles. It is often socially acceptable for girls to believe they cannot achieve much success in math and for boys not to excel in reading. By the time students reach high school and college classes, those stereotypes can be examined by looking at the number of girls in liberal arts classes compared to those in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) classes.

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School plays a large part in creating our gender roles.  It is at school that we are exposed to peers of both sexes.  There, we learn what our peers see as the proper ways for us to act based on what sex we are.  We might see, for example, that a boy that cries easily will get teased more than a boy who does not.  This may help us for the idea that being tough is part of the appropriate gender role for a boy.  In this way, being at school socializes us and teaches us how society expects us to act based on our sex. 

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