To explore processes by which mothers socialize children’s attitudes about gender stereotypes and sexism, we studied 62 mothers and their 6- to 8-year-old children. Mother-child dyads learned of a hypothetical camp director’s use of gender stereotypes to assign campers to various activities. Resulting conversations revealed variations in the types, frequencies, and patterns of participants’ discussions. Mothers with more flexible gender attitudes and higher feminist endorsements were more likely to explicitly refute gender stereotypes in conversations with their children. Children with more flexible gender attitudes were more likely to have mothers who personalized content during the dyadic conversation. When mothers questioned stereotypes through elaboration and personal connections, children were more likely to refute stereotypes in subsequent intervals within the conversation. State space grids mapped parent-child conversational patterns and showed an association between more varied dyadic conversational patterns and children’s less stereotyped attitudes. Results suggest that mothers who use personally meaningful and varied strategies to communicate with their children about bias have children who have less-entrenched gender stereotypes and are more likely to confront others’ sexism.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology