Study Finds That Gender Stereotypes Are Universal and Begin at Age 10

Research from the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the World Health Organization, and the United Nations Population Fund has discovered that the gender stereotyping message that girls are weak and boys are tough is prevalent all over the world and starts to take hold when boys and girls are around the age 10. The study is the first-ever cross-cultural study on gender and sexuality in adolescent boys and girls.

The research team conducted interviews with parents, youth workers, teachers, and adolescents in 15 cities across the globe to better understand the explicit and often insidious ways children receive gendered messages. The authors of the report note that “there is a global set of forces from schools, parents, media, and peers themselves that reinforce the hegemonic myths that girls are vulnerable and that boys are strong and independent.”

Even in the presence of “girl power” marketing in the United States, there is still a clearly perceived difference between genders that can have severe negative effects on boys and girls. Girls are subjected to closer monitoring and scrutinization and often don’t engage in the same range of activities as boys. Boys are inadvertently encouraged for their aggressive behavior.

The study, “It Begins at 10: How Gender Expectations Shape Early Adolescence Around the World,” was published in a special issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health. It may be accessed here.

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