Like brother, like sister? Siblings’ Role In ‘Gender’ Games Revealed By Study

At 2 years old, games “already have a gender”, according to researchers: 82% of girls play dolls almost every day, compared to 19% of boys, according to a study released this Thursday, October 6, 2022 by Ined and Inserm. . On the contrary, 89% of boys have fun with toy cars, compared to 32% of girls, a difference of almost 60 points between the activities of one and the other.

At age two, girls are more likely than boys to draw pictures every day (73% vs. 58%). The boys abandon these games and play ball (76% compared to 57% of the girls).

Also read: With the “pink tax”, girls’ Christmas can still cost more than boys’

Regardless of social class, we found the distinction between outdoor games for boys, indoor games for girls, Kevin Diter, a sociology professor at the University of Lille who conducted the study, noted at a news conference.

18,000 children from 2011 followed for 20 years

His work is part of the Elfe study, carried out by the INED (National Institute for Demographic Studies) and the Inserm (National Institute for Medical and Health Research). The first nationwide French longitudinal study dedicated to the follow-up of children from birth to adulthood, included more than 18,000 children born in 2011, followed up for a period of 20 years.

However, this gap can be narrowed depending on sibling composition and games are less gendered between cadets. Younger siblings with only sisters are two to three times more likely to play with dolls every day than other younger and older siblings (33% vs. 17% and 12%). They are also slightly less likely to play small cars (87% vs. 90%).

Similarly, younger girls with only brothers are twice as likely to play toy cars every day as younger girls and older girls (49% vs. 25% and 28%). They are also slightly less likely to play with dolls (80% vs. 82%).

Parental involvement was also analyzed.

The hypothesis proposed by the researchers is that the games of the opposite sex are present in the house and that their elders train them to play them. “The role of the brothers and sisters is fundamental in the activities and especially in their games. Being an only or older child, having only brothers, having only sisters or having brothers and sisters are situations that strongly affect children’s activities. watch the researchers.

There is less of a gender gap for puzzles or drawings. A third of children play puzzles every day or frequently, whether they are boys or girls. According to the researchers, it is because parents are more involved in these activities considered useful because they develop writing, language, academic skills. They invest more in the older ones than in the smaller ones, to whom they have less time to dedicate.

“These activities differ from games with dolls and cars because they seem to be practiced with or at the initiative of an adult. These are academically profitable activities.” researchers say. “The place of brothers and sisters and their role in gender socialization is poorly studied, although they are likely to come into play early in gender production,” according to Kevin Dieter.

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