From birth onwards, gender shapes the way children are parented, talked to and the reactions of others to boys’ and girls’ behaviors, activities and preferences. These so-called gender socialization processes often happen unconscious and implicitly, and are therefore best captured with neuroscientific measures. Although much research has dedicated itself to untangling the biological and environmental determinants of gendered behavior, there is very little research on the underlying processes of gender socialization. Knowledge about these underlying mechanisms is important, because it can increase our understanding of the roots of gender inequality in early childhood.
My PhD project aims to expand this research, to see which neural processes are involved in maternal and paternal gender socialization and whether these differ between daughters and sons. This should provide us with more insights into whether gender socialization is elicited by the children’s gender and behavior or whether parents actively shape them towards gender-appropriate behavior. For more information, take a look at my project page.