Starting young

I was doing a puzzle with D this evening (who is just 3). It was about a farm, and he asked me “where is the farmer?”. I pointed out the woman who was putting hay in a wheelbarrow. He said “girls aren’t farmers”.

I’m amazed by this, as we have a series of books about “Mrs Boot the Farmer” (who appears to be a single parent of two children), as well as quite a few picture books with a mix of male and female farmers. We had a discussion about it, and he appeared dubiously convinced that both men and women are farmers. C tried to help me by saying from his older brother position of superiority that girls and boys aren’t farmers, but I think that made D more determined to stick to his position.

I really thought that we were doing well in subverting the dominant gender stereotypes. Clearly more effort is needed.

  5 comments for “Starting young

  1. May 20, 2006 at 4:36 am

    It’s scary, eh? It must be out there in the air, the way they pick it up.

  2. May 21, 2006 at 4:01 pm

    Yes, I don’t think it’s a function of how much effort you’re putting in as much as how powerful the cultural influences are.

  3. May 21, 2006 at 8:21 pm

    But he’s only three! He does go to preschool three days a week, though.

  4. May 22, 2006 at 11:33 am

    I’ve heard so many stories like this…I wouldn’t beat yourself up about it too much. I mean, we survived our childhood influences and made up our own minds, didn’t we?

  5. JenniferV
    May 22, 2006 at 8:45 pm

    cf this afternoon’s episode of Play School, where one of the presenters introduced a little plastic farm tableau – “Here are two farmers. This is Jill and this is Steve.”

    We are wondering why our 2 year old thinks a small spiky animal is a hedgehog when all but one of the books in this house feature echidnas.

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