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Boy and Girl Stereotypes: How Do They Influence Our Thinking?

Have you ever wondered how stereotypes of boys and girls influence our thinking?

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Boyshave short hair, girls have long hair. Boys play football, girls dance or ride horses. There are so many stereotypes of girls and boys that actually make a difference in the way people think. Children’s books are a good source to find these stereotypes and reading them will eventually make us categorize different things for different genders. I went through some children’s books to see how much gender stereotyping can be found in them and what stereotypes are the most commonly used. Have you ever wondered how much these stereotypes really affect our every-day thinking?

Let us begin with some very general and simple stereotypes of boys and girls. Colours like green and blue have always been categorized as boy’s colours, and colours like red and pink as girls. This is very well seen in children’s books from which a majority used these stereotypes. An example is the book “Minnies Bike” by Pratima Michell in which Minnie’s clothing is mainly red and her brother is blue. Some books did break these stereotypes and use the “wrong” colours for wrong genders, but these were mainly a bit harder books that older children would normally read. You will see this very much in real life e.g. in your home economics class, the red aprons are meant for girls and the blue ones for boys. In reality, boys who wear a lot of girl-coloured clothes are often referred to be “gay”. Another very usual stereotype is that girls have long hair and boys have short hair. In children’s books you will very rarely run into a long haired boy. In reality this is of course not like this, but if you are a long haired boy, thanks to these stereotypes you will many times be referred to a girl.

In children’s books, boys are usually bigger, stronger and taller than girls and play football. Girls on the other hand are smaller, usually younger (there are more little sisters than little brothers) and do sports like riding horses or dancing. In the children’s book “Vuodenajat Pellen, Pian ja Pepin kanssa” by Mario Covi, you can see only the girls dancing and only the boys playing football. In reality, dancing has also built up to be a “girls” sport even though these days a lot of boys dance. Something funny that is very noticeable in books is that when children have pets, the boys more often have dogs and girls cats. This can be seen in for example “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and “The Rugrats Versus the Monkeys” by Luke David.

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