July 26, 2005

Susan D. Witt, The Influence of School and Reading Materials on Children's Gender Role Socialization

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A picture of girls putting on make- up....

Over the weekend, I read an incredible article about the influence of school and reading material on childrenís gender roles socialization by Susan D. Witt. Being so fascinated by this article, I did some researchs about the author, Susan D. Witt. What I found about Susan D. Witt even surprised me more because I am reading her most recent scholarly publications and getting a chance to analyze her works is so amazing. Susan D. Witt is a professor at the School of Family and Consumer Sciences in the University of Akron. She has a lot educations and professional experiences. Some of the classes that she taught were family issues, marriage, parenting educations, childrenís development, parent and children relations, childrenís literature, and now she is also adding some more classes. Most of her articles and class courses that I saw were great that interest me a lot. I canít wait to read more articles from her in the future.
In Susan D. Wittí s article, she emphasized that beside the media and fairy tales, there are also other environmental influences such as parents, peers, and school experience that are an impact on children socialization to their adult roles as they developed. Susan thinks what exhibit males and females in various roles most are the reading materials that children used in school. These portrayals of the gender difference have a great impact on the childrenís perspective of male and female roles in society. She also talked about the history of how the government of the United States assigned compulsory education for all the children, but in reality, boys and girls didnít acquire the same educations experience(1). Boys were the one who received the positive outcomes while the girls received the negative outcomes.
Susan proved her point by talking about how teachers taught gender roles to children through activities, modeling, reinforcing by using different praise of words to boys and girls, and other form of communications in the school setting. She argued that teachers pay different attentions to boys and girls such as teachers pay more attentions to boys than girls because in the classroom, boys seem to be more dominant. This is because the boys are the one that will likely put their hands up faster and push their entire body in the way to get the teacherís attentions(2). While the girls sit silently rising their hands and waiting patiently to be called on. She also expressed that teachers have certain gender-stereotyped expectations of boys and girls. For example, teachers think that boys have behaviors that are more mastery-oriented and that girls didnít perform harder toward their achievement.
In Susanís article, she also emphasized about how childrenís books, parents, and roles models play a great roles in gender bias for children. She highlighted that a lot children are being exposed to childrenís book that have pictures, words, and descriptions that says that boys are superior than girls. Also the expressions that females who are portray in childrenís book as so passive, less important, and not funs while males are portray as adventurer, slow problems with their cleverness and creativity(7). Susan expressed that parents used gender stereotypes on their children at a very younger age basing on rather the children are boys or girls. In the article, there was the example of parents viewing that their boys play outside a lot at the playground, play with swords, cars, dinosaurs, and fighting. While the girls are more likely to sing, sew, swing, dress up, put on make up and play with dolls. She analysis that role models shaped a lot of the childrenís opinions about male and femaleís role because most female are portray as less important than male. Female was less likely to be given great tasks, while male are in the workforce, and army. So importantly, little girls were raised to value marriage, being a mother with children of their own, and live their life with the assumption that their husband with a job will always provide them safety(7).
Reading Susanís article was an adventure for me because I was able to see some of the ways that childrenís genders are being stereotyped. Reading Susanís article also made me realized that the environmental influences such as fairy tales, media, parents, peers, school experience play a great role in gender stereotyped for children that is making it harder for the children, especially the girls. I just donít like the facts that girls are given negative attentions so much and boys are given the positive attentions. Susanís article help related back to how I encountered gender stereotyped as a girl. It doesnít seem fair to the girls, these stereotypes are putting girls self-esteem down.
Susanís article helps me related back to how I encountered gender stereotyped as a girl. I remember being in elementary school and raising my hand for a long time, but he the teacher only pick on the boys because they were in front of me. However, I didnít quite like the issue about how the teachers have gender-stereotyped expectations of boys and girls. If the students donít behaved like the teacher expected, then they are being treated as ď differentĒ and unusual. I think it is wrong for teachers to treat their students like that because they as teacher are supposed to teach the students about what is wrong and right about gender stereotypes and not to use it on the students. Beside, not every boys and girls are like the ways that these teachers expected of them. When the teacher praised boys and girls differently. For example, teachers praised boys for knowledge, achievements, and abilities, and praised girls for obedience, appearance, and experience. It is showing that the girls was never given the chance to proved their abilities, and that the girls arenít good to be in school setting.
One of the topics in her reading that I enjoy reading the most was when she described about the six aspects of the social representation of gender in school setting. Listed below are the six aspected(2) :
1. Social categories - using gender to categorize students (i.e., letís form a boysí line and a girlsí line ).
2. Group composition - using group composition to make sense of classroom interaction; forming groups by gender.
3. Material culture - cultural marking of objects as either masculine or feminine.
4. Activities - cultural marking of activities that identifies roles and routines as masculine or feminine.
5. Space - allocating different areas of the classroom or playground to boys or girls.
6. Behavioral style - labeling particular patterns of behavior as either masculine or feminine (Lloyd & Duveen, 1992: 61).
I liked this topic because it remind me about when I was in elementary school and our teacher have us formed into boysí line and girlsí line.
The rest of her reading was fun and enlighten, and though I donít like the bias about gender difference in children. I found it hard to argue about those other issues because there isnít much that a person can say to gender stereotyped. Gender stereotyped on children is set straight that children have no right to said about how they are being viewed, they will just have to accept it or being treated as an outsider of their society until they are older enough to understand.

Here is the link to her article and another link that give some information about Susan D. Witt, I highly suggested that you guys should take a look at some of her articles, they are really great:

http://gozips.uakron.edu/~susan8/school.htm ( article page)

http://search.hp.netscape.com/hp/boomframe.jsp?query=Susan+D.+Witt&page=1&offset=0&result_url=redir%3Fsrc%3Dwebsearch%26requestId%3Dcd7f20acac7cbf2f%26clickedItemRank%3D1%26userQuery%3DSusan%2BD.%2BWitt%26clickedItemURN%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww3.uakron.edu%252Fhefe%252Fhefefac%252Fswitt.htm%26invocationType%3D-%26fromPage%3DCompaq1Top%26amp%3BampTest%3D1&remove_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww3.uakron.edu%2Fhefe%2Fhefefac%2Fswitt.htm ( Susan Information)

http://search.hp.netscape.com/hp/boomframe.jsp?query=Susan+D.+Witt&page=2&offset=0&result_url=redir%3Fsrc%3Dwebsearch%26requestId%3Dcd7f20acac7cc0ab%26clickedItemRank%3D13%26userQuery%3DSusan%2BD.%2BWitt%26clickedItemURN%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww2.lewisu.edu%252F%257Egazianjo%252Finfluence_of_television_on_child.htm%26invocationType%3Dnext%26fromPage%3DHPNextPrev%26amp%3BampTest%3D1&remove_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww2.lewisu.edu%2F%7Egazianjo%2Finfluence_of_television_on_child.htm ( one article about TV influence on gender role socialization)

Posted by chan0719 at July 26, 2005 1:10 AM