Boys Don’t Play with Dolls: Mothers’ and Fathers’ Gender Talk during Picture Book Reading

Joyce J. Endendijk, Marleen G. Groeneveld, Lotte D. Van der Pol, Sheila R. Van Berkel, Elizabeth T. Hallers-Haalboom, Judi Mesman*, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective. This study examines mothers’ and fathers’ gender talk with their daughters and sons and investigates the association between parental gender talk and parental implicit gender stereotypes. Design. Mothers’ and fathers’ gender talk was examined in 304 families with two children aged 2 and 4 years old, using the newly developed Gender Stereotypes Picture Book. Parental implicit gender stereotypes were assessed with the action inference paradigm. Results. The picture book elicited different forms of gender talk, including use of gender labels, evaluative comments related to gender, and comments about gender stereotypes. Mothers used positive evaluative comments more than fathers to convey messages about gender, but fathers made more comments confirming gender stereotypes than mothers. Fathers with two boys were more inclined to emphasize appropriate male behavior in their gender talk than fathers in other family types. Implicit gender stereotypes were associated with gender talk to the children only for mothers. Conclusion. The assessment of gender talk with the Gender Stereotypes Picture Book can provide insights into the roles of mothers and fathers in child gender socialization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-161
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


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