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TIME for Kids to Learn Gender Stereotypes: Analysis of Gender and Political Leadership in a Common Social Studies Resource for Children

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 September 2019

J. Celeste Lay
Tulane University
Mirya R. Holman
Tulane University
Angela L. Bos
College of Wooster
Jill S. Greenlee
Brandeis University
Zoe M. Oxley
Union College
Allison Buffett
George Washington University


While early gendered messages mold children's expectations about the world, we know relatively little about the depictions of women in politics and exposure to gender stereotypes in elementary social studies curricula. In this article, we examine the coverage of political leaders in the children's magazine TIME for Kids, a source commonly found in elementary school classrooms. Coding all political content from this source over six years, we evaluate the presence of women political leaders and rate whether the leaders are described as possessing gender-stereotypic traits. Our results show that although TIME for Kids covers women leaders in greater proportion than their overall representation in politics, the content of the coverage contains gendered messages that portray politics as a stereotypically masculine field. We show that gendered traits are applied differently to men and to women in politics: feminine and communal traits are more likely to be applied to women leaders, while men and women are equally described as having masculine and agentic traits. Portrayals of women political leaders in stereotype-congruent ways is problematic because early messages influence children's views of gender roles.

Research Article
Copyright © The Women and Politics Research Section of the American Political Science Association, 2019

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The authors are grateful to Chloe Cook, Mike Stalteri, and other undergraduate students who worked as coders on this project. The work was also improved greatly thanks to Jennifer Lawless, who served as a discussant for an early version presented at the Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association.



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