The New York Times:
A web search for Halloween costumes of scientists produces only boys wearing lab coats and goggles. A search for nursing costumes turns up girls in skirts with stethoscopes. Cats and cupcakes are also girls, while sharks and astronauts are boys.
The same gender division exists not just in toys — blue toolboxes and trucks for boys, pink play kitchens and dolls for girls — but also in nearly every other children’s product, including baby blankets, diapers and toothbrushes.
Lynn Liben of Penn State University and Lacey Hilliard of Tufts University studied preschool students. In some of the classrooms, teachers made no distinctions between boys and girls. In others, teachers differentiated between them, such as asking them to line up separately.
After two weeks, the children in the group where distinctions were made were much more likely to hold stereotypical beliefs about whether men and women should be in traditionally male or female occupations, and spent much less time playing with peers of the opposite sex. Even saying “boys and girls” instead of “children” had the effect.
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