Preschool Teachers’ Facilitation of Gender-Typed and Gender- Neutral Activities during Free Play

Kristen L. Granger, Laura Hanish, Olga Kornienko, Robert Bradley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Understanding how preschool teachers facilitate children’s engagement in gender-typed and gender-neutral activities is important given that engagement in gender-typed activities is differentially linked to the development of skills connected to later academic achievement. Thus, facilitation of children’s engagement in gender-typed activities may contribute to emergence of gender differences in later educational outcomes. The current study used a teacher-focal observational coding system to investigate research questions about the frequency with which teachers facilitated feminine, masculine, and gender-neutral activities with same- and mixed-gender groups during free-play. Participants were 37 female teachers of Head Start classrooms in the U.S. Southwest (M years teaching preschool = 10.57, SD = 6.85, range = 2–27; 75.6 % completed at least a bachelor’s degree). Results revealed that feminine activities were facilitated less often than were masculine and gender- neutral activities during free play. Results also revealed variability in teachers’ facilitation of feminine, masculine, and gender-neutral activities, depending on the gender composition of the students with whom teachers were interacting (i.e., boys-only, girls-only, and mixed-gender). Implications for educational, developmental, and gender research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)498-510
Number of pages13
JournalSex Roles
Issue number7-8
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017


  • Childhood play behavior
  • Classroom behavior
  • Educational toys
  • Gender-typing
  • Group composition
  • Human sex differences
  • Preschool teachers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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