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Does a Male Nurse Know about Football? American and Egyptian Children’s Understanding of Gender and Expertise

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Abstract Three experiments explore how American (n=102) and Egyptian (n=73) preschoolers’ inferences about expertise are affected by an expert’s gender and occupation. Children viewed a nurse and a car mechanic in a gender stereotypical (female nurse, male mechanic) or counterstereotypical (female mechanic, male nurse) presentation and indicated who would know more about profession-related information and gender-stereotypical activities. American children inferred expert knowledge primarily based on the expert’s profession, regardless of gender. Egyptian children also made correct attributions about professional expertise, but they were more likely to be influenced by an expert’s gender than their American counterparts. Additionally, both American and Egyptian children were less likely to attribute stereotypical male knowledge to a male in a counterstereotypical profession. These results suggest that culturally mediated stereotypes affect preschool children’s social cognitive judgments. Implications for the development of gender stereotypes are discussed.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 48824 USA


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