Gender-Role Stereotyping: Testing Theory with
a Lon gitudinal Sam ple
Andrew A. Helwig
G ender-role stereotyping by children has a research literature which dates back
25 years. This article reviewed studies which examined children ’s occupational
choice or gender assignment to a list of occupations called a fixed-response format.
Also reviewed were studies in which children were given a free-choice response
capability in which they were asked to identify their occupational aspirations.
Trends and changes in children ’s occupational stereotyping over the years were
identified. Unlike 20 years ago, recent studies found that girls identify a greater
num ber of different occupational aspirations than do boys. New data, which was
collected from a lon gitudinal sample of over 200 elementary school children
examined in the second, fourth, and sixth grades, is also presented. Eighty-six
percent of the sample was white and the majority of the non-white sample was
Hispa n ic. Hypo theses from G ottfredson ’s theory of circu m scriptio n and
com promise and social learning theory were tested with support found for each.
Over the ye ars, a number of studie s have inve stigate d occupational gen-
der-role s in childre n. Researchers examine d the se gende r-role s by asking
ele mentary school and younge r children to report the ir occupational aspi-
rations, a fre e-response mode (Looft, 1971; Phipps, 1995; Rile y, 1981) , or
by re sponding to a list of occupations or occupational photographs, a fixed-
re sponse mode (B arnhart, 1983; Re id, 1995; Sche re sky, 1976) or both
(O ’Keefe & Hyde, 1983; Tremaine & Schau, 1979; Trice, Hughes, Odom,
Woods, & McClellan, 1995). Three different views for explaining gende r-role
stere otyping and developme nt will be briefly reviewed, those of Kohlbe rg
(1966) , social le arning the ory (Bandura, 1986) , and Gottfre dson (1981).
Sex Roles, Vol. 38, No s. 5/6, 1998
1998 Pl e num Publishing Corporation
To whom corresponde nce should be addresse d at Division of Counseling Psychology and
Counselor Education, University of Colo rado at Denver, Campus Box 106, Post Office Box
173364, Denve r, CO 80217-3364.