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Sally Meyer

Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Home Economics

First Advisor

Ruth Sather Sorenson


As social roles change, family roles change. the purpose of the study was to investigate the relationship of fathers' participation in childcare to the development of gender role stereotypes in 4- and 5-year-old children in two-parent families. Parent and child demographic characteristics, socioeconomic characteristics, and mothers' employment were also included as variables in the study. Three nursery schools in Brookings, South Dakota were contacted to provide subjects for the study. A total of 53 nursery school families volunteered and completed the study. Fathers' participation in childcare was measured with a mail-out form of the Paternal Involvement in Child Care Index. Children's stereotypes were measured by a Q-sort task developed for this study. The task included pictures of children' s toys, adult family roles, and adult occupational roles, which children categorized as male, female, or both. Chi-square analyses were used to test the hypotheses that children's stereotypes would be inversely related to fathers' participation in childcare, mothers' work, and socioeconomic factors; and, that female children and first born children would show fewer stereotypes. Three variables were significantly related to children's gender role stereotypes. Fathers' participation in child rearing showed a significant relationship to children's toy choice. Children in shared caregiving families, exhibited fewer stereotypes when categorizing children's toys than children of mother primary caregiver families. Father's education was related to children's occupational stereotypes. Children whose fathers had bachelor's or master's degrees exhibited significantly more stereotypes than children whose fathers had higher or lower educational levels. Child's gender was also related to children's stereotypes. Girls categorized adult family roles significantly, more stereotypical than boys in the sample.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Sex role in children

Stereotypes (Social psychology)

Father and child

Child care



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University