Education and Society About Gender Term Paper

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Education and Society About Gender

The Perception of Gender Value Among Children

In Myra Sadker's book, Failing at Fairness, gender issues in the classroom are studied to evaluate how sexism is presented and to what extent it impacts female self-esteem. In a study entitled, "Help Me, God. I'm a Girl," the response to the hypothetical consideration of gender change was examined for eleven hundred Michigan children between 1988 and 1990. When asked what life would be like if they experienced a change to the opposite sex, the general conclusion that was drawn found that both girls and boys recognized weaknesses with the female sex as compared to males. This raises concern over the social impact of sexism that appears to exist even at a young age as the value of the female gender is compromised by views that males present the more advantageous sex. Thus, the evidence of sexism among children has bearing on the social opportunities and development of self-esteem of girls.

The reactions to the question, "Suppose you woke up tomorrow and found you were a member of the opposite sex," were examined for boys and girls of different age groups, and their responses varied according to age group. Themes examined among the responses centered on social opportunity, physical power, physical appearance, and social access. As the children aged, more pronounced disapproval of the female gender surfaced. The responses provided were examined based on observation and statistics.

In the study it was found that pre-pubescent girls often considered that being male instead would provide them greater social opportunities, especially in terms of career and financial success. The boys, however, considered the possibility of being a girl, "appalling, disgusting, and humiliating." Forty-two percent of the girls saw the male gender to command greater respect and enjoy more security while ninety-five percent of the boys found no advantage to being female. The remaining five percent of boys did tend to account for their perceptions of the female gender through stereotypical reasoning, such as seeing female vulnerability being advantageous to getting out of trouble. Physical power and attractive qualities also showed greater value for the male gender.

It was found that thirty-four percent of middle school girls and twenty-nine percent of boys admired the physical advantages of boys. "While the female body represents loss of sports, a male body means access." This statement, based on the statistic that nearly three-quarters of young boys dream of being a sports athlete, shows an established perception that males dominate sports, and sport success is the greatest ambition. It is interesting that physical prowess for boys can be narrowed down to an affinity for sports since female competition in sports is not limited by male play. Perhaps it is that the end goal of a sports career is of greater importance to boys, and to a majority of boys, that influences female opinion that boys are better athletes and thus more valued among the sexes.

While males tend to…

Sources Used in Document:


Sadker, Myra. "Help Me, God. I'm a Girl." Failing at Fairness. New York: Scribner, 1994.

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