Race (human categorization),Gender,Andrew N. Meltzoff,Identity (social science),Multiracial,Gender identity

Gender outranks race when kids describe ‘me’

November 17, 2016
in Kids

Kids ages 7 to 12 rate gender as more important to their social identities than race, say researchers. The research also suggests children of color think about race differently than their white peers do. “Kids are sorted by girls and boys all the time. It would be egregious to do such a thing based on race today.” “Kids are thinking about race and gender, and not just in terms of being able to identify with these social categories, but also what they mean and why they matter,” says lead author Leoandra Onnie Rogers, a former postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) who is now an assistant professor of psychology at Northwestern University. Andrew Meltzoff, co-director of I-LABS and coauthor of the paper, says, “Children are bombarded by messages about race, gender, and social stereotypes. These implicit and explicit messages rapidly influence their self-concepts and aspirations. “We were able to catch a glimpse of how culture influences children at a tender time in their lives. Kids talk about race and gender in different ways as early as age 7.” Ranking ‘me’ cards Published online in the journal Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology, the research involved interviews with 222 children in grades two through six at three racially diverse public schools in Tacoma, Washington. None of the schools had more than 50 percent of one racial group, and more than 75 percent of students were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. The children were first shown cards with different identity labels—boy, girl, son, daughter, student, Asian, Hispanic, black, white, and athlete—and asked to place each card in a “me” pile if the card described them or in a “not me” pile if it did not. Children were then asked to rank the “me” cards by importance, and then to separately rate how important racial and gender identities were to them on a three-point scale—either “not much,” “a little bit,” or “a lot.” The rankings took place separately so children could rate race and gender as equally important. The children were then asked two open-ended questions—”what does it mean to be a (boy/girl)”? and “what does it mean to be (black/white/mixed)”? All 222 responses to each question were then sorted into five broad categories that reflect the wider meaning behind these responses, including physical appearance, inequality and group difference, equality or sameness, family, and...

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