Thu, Aug 24, 2017 | updated 02:11 PM IST

Study reveals how kids perceive race and gender identities

Updated: Nov 16, 2016 12:22 IST      
Study reveals how kids perceive race and gender identities
Washington D.C. [USA], Nov. 16 (ANI): A recent study published in Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology journal has revealed how children perceive their social identities in middle childhood and what they think about their race and gender identities.

Children's knowledge and use of race and gender labels have been well-explored by researchers, but how kids think about their own identities in those contexts, especially before adolescence , is less clear.

A new study from the University of Washington provides found that children age 7 to 12 rate gender as more important than race and that their perceptions of both are woven together with personal and societal influences .

"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," said lead author Leoandra Onnie Rogers.

Andrew Meltzoff, co-director of I-LABS and co-author on the paper, said, "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."

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 were done 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 pride and positive traits. The codes were not mutually exclusive, so a single response might reference multiple topics.

The responses, which Rogers collected over the course of a year spent in the schools, found that:

Of the five social identities represented in the "me/not me" test (gender, race, family, student and athlete), family - being a son or daughter - was on average the most important to children

Being a student was ranked second, followed by gender, then athlete

Race was most consistently selected last, as the least important identity

Black and Mixed-Race children ranked race as more important than White children

In response to the open-ended questions, Black and Mixed-Race children mentioned racial pride much more often than White children did

Family identity was more important to girls than boys

Boys ranked being an athlete higher than girls did, and Black boys ranked it significantly higher than did all other children

The meanings children ascribed to gender identity tended to emphasize inequality and group differences, while meanings of race emphasized physical appearance and equality

There was no difference between boys and girls about how important gender was, but girls mentioned physical appearance as part of their gender identity much more often than boys

Girls made up 77 percent of the references to physical appearance when defining what gender means (for example, "I think [being a girl] means glam. Like looking glamorous and pretty for everyone.")

About half of Black and Mixed-Race children ranked race as "a lot" or a "little" important, while 89 percent of White children considered race a "not important" part of their identity. That gap is telling, Rogers said, particularly given that the schools involved are highly diverse.

"In some ways, it suggests that White kids and kids of color are navigating very different worlds when it comes to race and they're thinking about race in very different terms," said Rogers. "Most White kids would say [race] is not important, it doesn't matter, but kids of color would say, 'Yes, race does matter to me.'"

In the open-ended question about racial identity, 42 percent of responses that defined the meaning of race through values of equality or humanism came from White children (for example, "I believe race doesn't matter at all. It just matters about who you are."). By contrast, just one-quarter of Black and Mixed-Race children mentioned equality when talking about race.

While the emphasis on equity among White children may seem encouraging, Rogers said some White children interviewed were reluctant to broach the subject of race. When asked what it meant to be White, she recalled, one White third-grader refused to talk about it.

"The idea that talking about race is taboo was prevalent," she said. "Surprisingly, that is not uncommon in diverse schools. The narrative of multiculturalism is really stressed in such a way that everybody's the same and differences are minimized."

"That typically derives from the good motivation of encouraging kids to treat each other respect and not allowing discrimination to occur," Rogers said. "But it might also communicate racial silence, that race is something that's not OK to talk about."

By contrast, she said, it makes sense that children view gender as more important than race, since gender differences are openly discussed and accepted and celebrated in the broader society, for better or worse.

"Kids are sorted by girls and boys all the time," she said. "It would be egregious to do such a thing based on race today. There is a way we premeditate gender divisions and accept them as fact. Some kids push back on that, but it means there is a space to talk about it, that it's not a taboo conversation."

The research dovetails with two online training modules developed by Rogers and the I-LABS team focused on how children learn about race and how parents and teachers can talk with them about race in a helpful way. The modules are free and come with discussion guides intended to facilitate personal reflections and group conversations.

"As parents, we teach values through the conversations we have with our children," Meltzoff said. "We're hoping that these modules can help enrich parent-child talk about socially sensitive issues."

Overall, Rogers said, the study reinforces the need to better understand how multiple factors, from school culture to societal stereotypes, influence the formation of children's social identities.

"The issue is not that we're different. It's in the hierarchy and the value that's placed on those differences," Rogers said. "We really need more data and understanding of which messages promote social justice and equity, and which promote blindness, avoidance and silence."(ANI)

This is how often you should wash your hair!

Updated: Aug 24, 2017 14:00 IST     

London [UK], August 24 (ANI): Once a day, every other day or once a week- How often should you wash your hair?

Full Story >>

Brides-to-be, get ready for a 'stylish' surprise!

Updated: Aug 24, 2017 13:30 IST     

New Delhi [India], August 24 (ANI): If you're planning to say 'I do' anytime soon, here's a stylish surprise for you!

Full Story >>

Tips to lose weight sans diminution

Updated: Aug 24, 2017 13:24 IST     

London [UK], August 24 (ANI): There is no diet that will do what eating healthy does. Skip the diet, just eat healthy!

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], August 23 (ANI): Netherlands announced on Wednesday its participation as a 'Focus Country' in upcoming World Food India 2017 to be held on November 3-5, 2017 here.

Full Story >>

Get enchanted at EVC's 5th edition

Updated: Aug 23, 2017 15:27 IST     

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], August 23 (ANI): The multi-genre music and camping festival is back for its fifth edition on December 16-17, 2017 at Aamby Valley City, Lonavala.

Full Story >>

U'khand Youth Fest `17 joins hands with DehradunOnline.in

Updated: Aug 23, 2017 14:48 IST     

New Delhi [India], August 23 (ANI): Dehradun's digital marketing solutions company www.DehradunOnline.in today announced its tie-up with Uttarakhand's biggest event- Uttarakhand Youth Festival 2017.

Full Story >>

Clearing myths about matrimonial sites in India!

Updated: Aug 23, 2017 14:35 IST     

New Delhi [India], August 23 (ANI): The Indian matrimonial industry is growing at a decent pace with average growth between 20 percent-30 percent year-on-year.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [U.S.A.], August 23 (ANI): Supermarkets could now help their customers to establish a little healthy lifestyle, by tweaking the calorie content in their product recipes. As the name suggests, the 'silent' product reformulation lets the supermarket to make small changes to the recipes of their own-brand food products, without notifying the consumers explicitly.

Full Story >>

Don't let monsoon spoil on your solo trip, essential tips

Updated: Aug 23, 2017 13:12 IST     

New Delhi [India], August 23 (ANI): Sometimes the best travel companion you can have is yourself. If you are a person who does not like following fixed itineraries, hate clicking selfies, love to sample local cuisines and enjoy backpacking, then travelling solo can be a rewarding experience for you.

Full Story >>

How exactly does yoga benefit mind-body health?

Updated: Aug 23, 2017 12:10 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], August 23 (ANI): From increased strength to flexibility to heart health, benefits of yoga and meditation are countless.

Full Story >>

Art Deco Jewellery -An ode to cubism

Updated: Aug 23, 2017 11:43 IST     

New Delhi [India], August 23 (ANI): The roaring twenties witnessed the advent of an evocative movement: Art Deco.

Full Story >>

'Impact Awards' to honour frontline community workers

Updated: Aug 23, 2017 11:43 IST     

New Delhi [India], August 23 (ANI): Plan India, one of the leading child development organisations, recently honoured the last mile champions, who have bridged the gaps between communities and service providers, catalysing remarkable social and behavioural change countrywide.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], August 23 (ANI): Moms-to-be, we have some important news for you.

Full Story >>

Poland to Host Indian Film Festival

Updated: Aug 22, 2017 20:45 IST     

Warsaw [Poland], Aug.22 (ANI-Businesswire India): Film festivals have become a widespread phenomenon across the globe over the last fifty years as major events that go on to establish the reputation of the cities in which they are organised. The Indian Film Festival will be organised in Poland in October 2017 and what better way to celebrate 70 Glorious years of India's Independence. A Curtain Raiser Press Conference was organised to officially announce the first ever Indian Film Festival in Poland to be organised in Warsaw & Krakow from 7th - 10th October 2017.

Full Story >>

Delhi celebrate its first ever beer month

Updated: Aug 22, 2017 16:37 IST     

New Delhi [India] August 22 (ANI): India's National Capital Region celebrates its first ever beer month.

Full Story >>

Are all highly reviewed products 'really' good?

Updated: Aug 22, 2017 16:34 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], August 22 (ANI): From buying a pen to purchasing a car, people these days depend on the reviews and ratings on Internet to help them select.

Full Story >>

How can mothers better understand their babies

Updated: Aug 22, 2017 13:03 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], August 22 (ANI): Aimed at bringing more understanding to the relationship between mothers and babies, a recent study suggests the security of the relationship infants establish with their mothers is important for children's development.

Full Story >>

Why is it important to have 'good' friends in school?

Updated: Aug 22, 2017 12:02 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], August 22 (ANI): Making friends is critical for children to enjoy school and learning. Not just this, a new study suggests that the types of peer relationships youth make in high school matter for mental health through young adulthood.

Full Story >>

Pharrell Williams launches Adidas Tennis collection

Updated: Aug 22, 2017 11:30 IST     

London [UK], August 22 (ANI): Musician Pharrell Williams has expanded his ever-expanding collaboration with Adidas.

Full Story >>

Bollywood actress Adah Sharma attends 'Khwaish'

Updated: Aug 21, 2017 15:08 IST     

New Delhi [India], August 21 (ANI): Actress Adah Sharma and Mrs. Earth Priyanka Khurana Goyal recently graced a fashion and lifestyle exhibition 'Khwaish' at The Grand in Vasant Kunj.

Full Story >>