7-2 | Gender Neutrality in Play of Young Migrant Children

Article

Gender Neutrality in Play of Young Migrant Children
An Emerging Trend or an Outlier?

Smita Mathur and Gowri Parameswaran

Abstract:

The authors explore gender differences in the play of children of migrant farm workers from Mexico. They review the literature that indicates children exhibit gender differences in their play as early as three years old, but the authors claim their findings do not corroborate the existing research on gender differences in play. The twenty-one migrant girls and twenty boys they studied failed to exhibit gender differences in their play in the classroom, during their free play outdoors, or during their unstructured play at home. The authors also found no gender differences among these children in cognitive tasks, social interactions, and their use of their preferred language. The authors offer several reasons for these results and note that research studies of other cultural groups suggest that gender roles are altered when communities are displaced or undergo migration. The authors speculate on the possible implications of their findings for preschool teaching. Keywords: gender differences in play; Mexican immigrants; migrant children; play patterns and gender