Children learn at a very early age what it means to be a boy or a girl in our society. Through a myriad of activities, opportunities, encouragements, discouragements, overt behaviors, covert suggestions, and various forms of guidance, children experience the process of gender role socialization. It is difficult for a child to grow to adulthood without experiencing some form of gender bias or stereotyping, whether it be the expectation that boys are better than girls at math or the idea that only females can nurture children. As children grow and develop, the gender stereotypes they are exposed to at home are reinforced by other elements in their environment and are thus perpetuated throughout childhood and on into adolescence(Martin, Wood, & Little, 1990).
A child's earliest exposure to what it means to be male or female comes from parents (Lauer & Lauer, 1994; Santrock, 1994; Kaplan, 1991). One study indicates that parents have differential expectations of sons and daughters as early as 24 hours after birth (Rubin, Provenzano, & Luria, 1974). I am so thankful that my son and daughter-in-law allow my grandson to express his creativity in any way he would like. Recently, he saw some crocheted scarfs that one of my staff members had made and became interested in how to do it. Upon returning home, he immediately looked it up on youtube. His mother went out and purchased him the materials and gave him a quick lesson. He caught on fast and loves this new creative outlet. Who knows, someday he may be the next Ralph Lauren! Norma W. Honeycutt, Executive Director