Brain development in children has always been fascinating to me; it was the reason I chose to major in Early Childhood Education. I have often wondered how the expectations and behavior of parents and teachers affect young children academically. Specifically, how do early gender messages from adults, peers, and the popular media have a powerful impact on the development of young brains? The professional responsibility of all educators is to help every child reach their full potential. This thesis explored the potential impact early childhood educators have in developing and reinforcing stereotypes that can affect children academically by surveying teachers about their own backgrounds, thoughts and feelings about their male and female students. Confirming my belief that most teachers had similar backgrounds I was able to find that among the 59 respondents surveyed; 98% were female, 81% attended mixed gender public schools, 85% grew up in a two-parent home and 90% had a father working full-time outside of the home. While looking for similarities in descriptive language I was able to find that given a choice of 14 words from a word bank teachers used the same terms over and over to describe their male and female students. Teachers chose words that described physical characteristics when recalling their male students and chose emotional words when they were asked to describe their female students. When teachers were asked to recall which students they believed to be the most challenging in their classrooms and to identify the gender of these students, they identified male students three times more than their female students. I was left wondering if the mostly female teachers who all shared similar backgrounds were transferring unconscious bias onto their students. Why was the descriptive language they used so similar? Why were males students identified as challenging so much more than female students?


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Thesis Completion





Levin, Judith


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Education and Human Performance


Educational and Human Sciences

Degree Program

Educational and Human Sciences


Dissertations, Academic -- Education; Education -- Dissertations, Academic







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis

Included in

Education Commons