children; gender attitudes; occupations; counterstereotypical; stereotype flexibility
PSI CHI International Honors Society
PSI CHI Journal
Children’s career aspirations are affected by cultural stereotypes about gender. We investigated rudimentary implicit associations and explicit gender attitudes about occupations with a diverse sample of fifty-eight (29 girls, 29 boys) 10-year-old children. We tested implicit gender associations using an adapted auditory Stroop task and tested explicit gender attitudes using the Gender-Stereotyped Attitude Scale for Children (GASC). We also modified a version of the GASC to assess children’s attitudes about a female and a male firefighter-paramedic seen in a brief video. Children also judged the firefighter-paramedics’ job skills. Children did not display implicit associations between occupations and one’s gender based on differences in the response times between the congruent and incongruent test trials that paired male and female voices with occupations, t(1762) = 0.65, p = .52, d = 0.03. Auditory voice stimuli might have confounded the tested associations between gender and occupations. The GASC findings highlighted gender stereotype flexibility about men and women. Girls were more flexible than boys on the job component of the GASC, t(56) = −2.12, p = .039, d = 0.55. The level of children’s gender stereotype flexibility varied by occupation. Children exhibited the most flexibility for who should be a doctor and the least flexibility for who should be a ballet dancer/teacher. Lastly, we assessed attitudes toward the specific woman featured in the video; children overwhelmingly saw her as a potentially good fire chief (vs. the man featured in the video; 91% selected Kate or both for who would be a better fire chief).