Kids at gender-neutral preschools stereotype less

5:45 min

Children who attend gender-neutral preschools are less likely to stereotype and more willing to play with children of the opposite sex than children in more traditional preschools, according to a recent study.

The study by Uppsala University looked at how social environments can affect how children understand gender. It compared children at gender-neutral preschools, which avoid assigning gender roles and in some instances use the non-gender pronoun “hen”, with children who attend more typical preschools in Stockholm.

After interviewing 30 children from standard preschool and 50 from especially gender-neutral schools, the study found that kids at the gender-neutral preschools were less likely to use gender stereotypes, but were no less likely to notice a person’s gender.

Radio Sweden spoke with the project-head Ben Kenward, a professor at Oxford Brookes University and guest lecturer at Uppsala University, about the results.

“This is the first time that I am speaking politically, as well as scientifically, at the same time,” he said. “It is positive for children to have less gender stereotypes because that means more possibilities are open to them.”