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Gender Socialization in Schools

Gender Socialization in Schools

Gender Socialization in Elementary School, Secondary Schools, and Higher Education

In primary, secondary, and higher education, gender socialization is largely the same but also slightly different. Ballantine, Stuber & Everitt (2021) defines gender socialization as the process of educating members of society on how to behave or conduct themselves as per the gender roles or gender expectation. Gender socialization is largely similar from elementary to higher education in that educators teach students about gender roles, expectations, and appropriate behaviour. Furthermore, gender socialization at all these levels promotes segregation, which causes inequity.

Subsequently, gender socialization contrasts in these educational levels. Firstly, at the elementary level, gender socialization teaches children about gender-appropriate conduct through the formal curriculum. It also educates them on sexism and gender representations using educational materials. Children also learn about portrayals that depict gender-stereotypical behaviours and roles at the elementary level. For instance, male characters in basic reading textbooks are depicted as engaging in contentious, aggressive, and competitive activities, whereas female characters exhibit more nurturing tendencies. Additionally, in elementary school, segregation during play is a primary feature of gender socialization.

On the other hand, gender socialization among secondary school pupils frequently begins with children putting themselves in peer groups generally shaped by conformance to traditional gender role expectations. Besides, children at this level strive for fame and status. In addition, there is more sexual harassment due to gender and sexual expression, which causes bullying. Ballantine, Stuber & Everitt (2021) affirm that almost 80% of boys and girls experience some form of sexual harassment at school, mostly at the secondary level. Notably, more girls tend to graduate from secondary school than boys. Additionally, boys tend to take science, math, and STEM subjects as opposed to girls who take humanities and literature subjects.

Finally, at the higher education level, there is gender segregation due to gender socialization as girls tend to choose human service courses, while men choose complicated or science courses which focus on pay and gender responsibility. Nonetheless, there is little disparity because of the mixed depiction of gender and educational equity. For example, just like in secondary school, in higher education, women are over-represented within the human service fields (Ballantine, Stuber & Everitt, 2021). Most importantly, students choose their majors based on the expectations of their future roles. As a result, male learners concentrate on the anticipation of being the breadwinners and their pay. At the same time, females focus on the major occupations that will assist them in balancing work and family roles. Therefore, these explanations present a complex picture of the fact that women are more likely than men to attend college and graduate, that women are less likely to enrol in complex or science, math, or engineering courses, and that men typically perform better in these fields.

It is thus evident that gender socialization has minimal to less effect in elementary, but in secondary and higher education levels, it becomes problematic as it causes inequalities. Yang and Gao (2021) affirm that once the students get to campus, considerable gender segregation occurs where both female and male students major in different courses or fields. Females major in education or human service courses, and males specialize in STEM or science courses. As a result, this segregation becomes too troublesome on campus, to the point where students feel constrained by gender role expectations when choosing majors and to the point where these majors culminate in a profession that results in unequal payment. For example, gender socialization has caused inequalities because even though women have worked hard to achieve parity with men regarding educational attainment, such advancements have not translated into their salary gains. Ballantine, Stuber & Everitt (2021) state that women should attain a higher level of education than men to get the same salary pay. Such then implies that gender socialization has resulted in a gender gap in salaries or compensation, which exists because women and men tend to select diverse courses. For example, there are average or higher salaries in courses such as engineering, where men are the majority, and lower wages in courses that women specialize in, such as social work and education.

Most importantly, gender socialization causes inequalities because it restrains students from selecting, behaving, or thinking regarding their societal gender expectations. As a result, girls and women tend to be tied to fulfilling roles of caretakers, wives, and mothers, which limits them on career selection and males as providers compelling them to select complicated courses. Thus, gender socialization causes discrimination because it positions females as caretakers and males as providers, which results in gender inequality in how roles are disseminated at the household level.


Ballantine, J., Stuber, J., & Everitt, J. (2021). The sociology of education: A systematic analysis. Routledge.

Yang, X., & Gao, C. (2021). Missing women in STEM in China: An empirical study from the viewpoint of achievement motivation and gender socialization. Research in Science Education51, 1705-1723.


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Compare and contrast gender socialization at the elementary school, secondary schools, and in higher education and how that socialization may result in inequalities.

Gender Socialization in Schools

Gender Socialization in Schools

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