Discuss the Extent to Which Gender Schema Theory Can Account for Gender Development

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“Discuss the extent to which gender schema theory can account for gender development” (24 marks) Gender Schema theory explores the theory that through an organised set of beliefs and attitudes (schemas) stored in the memory out behaviours concerning our gender stem from these beliefs. Gender schema theory suggests that we develop these beliefs and views about what is appropriate and inappropriate behaviour from our interactions and observations with others and the outside world. it is theorised that we begin to develop these schemas from age 2 and after our basic gender identity is established we begin to focus on schemas that match out own in group gender identity and avoid those that do not. Gender schemas are the foundation for what we perceive to be acceptable and unacceptable behaviours and roles in society regarding our gender. These schemas are subject to change and as a child develops and matures cognitively these schemas become more flexible. By adolescence the schemas become flexible to the point to where a child’s cognitive ability is high enough to understand that the gender roles imposed on them are social constructs and many teenagers become more androgynous as a result. One strength that could be argued is that it is a valid cognitive explanation of gender development as, although contradicting Kohlberg’s cognitive development theory it is supported by research that clearly suggests that gender roles and stereotypes are established before gender is fully developed. One such example is the work of Fagot Et al where teachers found that re-enforcing boys and girls for the same behaviour the boys would not respond as the girls did to re-enforcement of feminine behaviour. This shows that boys already have ideas of the values associated with being male. At an early age, contradicting Kohlberg but strengthening the Gender Schema Theory as a whole. This

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