Boys and Girls: As Different as Cats and Dogs?

By Cate Nelson, Eco Child’s Play

Are gender differences inborn? Does my son like trucks because he’s as different from girls as cats are from dogs? Boys come out of the womb clutching footballs, girls cuddling dolls?

Probably not, but young kids seem to believe that.

In a U.S. study of 450 kids aged 5-college aged, researchers found that the young ones were more likely to believe that gender differences were nature, not nurture. As in: differences are there because they’re born into you, as species is. The differences are innate, they think.

Interestingly, over time children’s beliefs on gender differences fade, not grow stronger.

By age 10, the participants–diverse across racial and socioeconomic groups–believed closer to what their parents might. That is, that gender and species differences were distinct from one another, and environment plays a role in human sex-based differences.

No Men Are From Mars, then. Marianne Taylor, assistant professor of psychology at Pacific Lutheran University, led the study. She said that parents and teachers could help children by encouraging interest in subjects that were previously thought to be “girls” or “boys” only.

These results have important implications for how children think about activities that are culturally associated with the other gender, for example, how girls think about science or math. By confronting this belief directly, parents and teachers can help encourage girls and boys to explore a wider range of school activities.

Green Options Media is a network of environmentally-focused blogs providing users with the information needed to make sustainable choices. Written by experienced professionals, Green Options Media’s blogs engage visitors with authoritative content, compelling discussions, and actionable advice. We invite anyone with questions, or simply curiosity, to add their voices to the community, and share their approaches to achieving abundance.

56 comments

Danuta Watola
Danuta Watola4 years ago

Thanks for the info

Ryder W.
Ryder W.4 years ago

the world would be a much better place if people could choose what it feels like to be male or female. every person is born with different levels of feminine and masculine traits. gender stereotypes and gender roles can be soul-crushing.

Megan S.
Megan S.4 years ago

I always try to spark interest in things that are typically stereotyped as 'of the other sex' to little kids. For instance, I was knitting over at my aunt's and uncle's house, and I tried to get my little cousin (boy) into it. He said it was funny that I was knitting, because only old people knit, and it was especially funny that I was knitting an octopus. He told me he would probably knit once he got to be old.
I love that little kiddo.

Naomi M.
Naomi Miskimins4 years ago

Thanks. I think these views are at least partly a product of the environment children are raised in. I had a friend that was raised to believe that playing with dolls is just as acceptable as playing with footballs. We played with both, and both of us are perfectly fine

Rosie Lopez
Rosie Lopez4 years ago

thanks for the article

Empress Ginger
Ginger Strivelli5 years ago

Boys and girls are different and there is nothing wrong with that. What is wrong is crazy parents trying to encourage their little kids to be gay or trans or bi sexual before they even have any sexual thoughts....when and if your kid happens to 'come out' as gay or whatever as a teen or young adult THEN be accepting and supportive of that....don't try to program them to be that before they even get old enough to understand sexuality.

Masha Samoilova
Past Member 5 years ago

probably, we love patterns to make sense of the world

Robert O.
Robert O.5 years ago

Something to think about. Thanks Veronica.

Veronique L.
Veronique L.5 years ago

:-))

Charles B.
Charles B.5 years ago

hum... TY Veronica!