Language at work: Children's gendered interpretations of occupational titles

Lynn Susan Liben, Rebecca S. Bigler, Holleen R. Krogh

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

43 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A large literature has shown that children's beliefs and aspirations about occupations reflect cultural gender stereotypes. One channel that may create or sustain occupational stereotypes is language. Two studies were designed to examine whether children interpret occupational titles as gender specific or gender neutral. In Study 1, children (6- to 11-year-olds, N = 64) were asked directly if various job titles could be used for both men and women doing the job. In Study 2, children (6- to 10-year-olds, N = 51) were shown pictures of men and women engaged in job activities and asked which one(s) showed someone who could be called a(n)_. Titles were linguistically unmarked for gender (e.g., doctor), strongly marked (e.g., policeman), or weakly marked (e.g., postmaster). Marked titles were given in masculine and feminine forms. Findings reinforced past work showing that marked titles are exclusionary, revealed that some children harbor confusions about even unmarked titles, and demonstrated the mediating role of individual differences in attitudes. Implications for the changing lexicon and for educational programs are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)810-828
Number of pages19
JournalChild development
Volume73
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002

Fingerprint

Language
interpretation
language
gender
stereotype
job title
Occupations
educational program
Individuality
occupation

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

Cite this

Liben, Lynn Susan ; Bigler, Rebecca S. ; Krogh, Holleen R. / Language at work : Children's gendered interpretations of occupational titles. In: Child development. 2002 ; Vol. 73, No. 3. pp. 810-828.
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Language at work : Children's gendered interpretations of occupational titles. / Liben, Lynn Susan; Bigler, Rebecca S.; Krogh, Holleen R.

In: Child development, Vol. 73, No. 3, 01.01.2002, p. 810-828.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

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