At this time, there are three dominate theories on how a child learns about gender. More theories are in use and more will be developed as the three major theories are incomplete. As a baby is wrapped in a pink or blue blanket, there begins the child’s gender socialization. The child is then surrounded by agents of socialization from cultures to subcultures to learn about gender identity. The three popular theories of gender socialization are Social Learning Theory, Cognitive Development Theory and Gender Schema Theory. All three of these theories propose clarification for how children learn and respond to gender issues. The Gender Schema Theory is becoming increasingly popular; however, there are no widely accepted theories that encompass the fundamentals of all three areas of study. The Gender Schema Theory describes how a child organizes thoughts during different developmental stages, and due to schemas getting set at a young age, difficulties develop in changing these schemas as a child grows into adulthood.
Social Learning Theory is based on observable behavior and society’s rewards and punishments for the “correct” gender appropriate behavior. It is the idea that girls are encouraged and praised to have tea parties and play quietly with dolls while boys are suppose to play aggressive sports and with their fire trucks.
In a child’s early schooling, teachers attempt to treat each child equal but there is hidden curriculum that contradicts this thought. Teachers, on average, spend more time with disruptive boys and less time with quiet girls. The long term effects of this is that girls tend to do better in school at a young age but due to the neglect, girls school performance tends to drop off as they enter middle school and above.
On the other hand, boys generally do better as they go through school due to the attention from teachers. Another example of hidden curriculum is the encouragement of sports for boys and socialization within female...