Why do girls play with Barbies and boys with race cars?

Essay by dmilneHigh School, 12th gradeA, January 2004

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Images of a child being born is always coloured by shades of pink and blue. A woman walks into a children's store and lingers momentarily by the dolls, while nearby a man purchasing a gift silently contemplates a toy fire engine or race car. All over the world in any culture, religion or economic state, the sex of a child will effect its upbringing like nothing else. In this essay the toys that will be evaluated in terms of the contribution to the child's development will be the Barbie doll and the race car. Therefore, the obvious question that this essay will attempt to answer is: "What happens in a child's development to make a girl attracted to a Barbie doll and a boy repulsed by it?" or simply "How is gender developed?"

To answer this question to the full extent one must consider and critically evaluate 3 main theories of gender development which are, the Biological approach, Social learning theory, and the Cognitive developmental theory.

The reason why Barbie dolls and race cars have been used in this essay is because they are the typical and stereotyped toys of girls and boys.

The true basis of this essay is the ever-familiar nature and nurture debate. The biological theory is the theory that nature develops gender, and the social learning theory and the cognitive developmental theory believe that gender is nurtured through socialisation. However these two theories also rely on certain aspects of nature. From the research on this topic, it is hard to disagree with Carole R. Beal who stated that "Bological influences do not work in isolation; children always develop within a social context, and thus nature and nurture inevitably interact." Therefore the conclusion that can be made is that the 3 theories, mentioned in this essay,