Gender Stereotyping in 5–7 Year-olds and the Development of an Initiative to Combat Gender Bias

12 Jan 2022
Cormac Harris and Alan O’Sullivan

On 12 January 2022 the ISS21 Children and Young People Research Cluster was delighted to host a seminar with Cormac Harris and Alan O’Sullivan, winners of the BT Young Scientists 2020 and the European Union Contest for Young Scientist 2021.

The researchers presented the findings of a study that they carried out on the prevalence of gender stereotyping in 376 primary school pupils aged 5-7. They devised six child-centred questions and activities to gauge the pupils' views on various aspects of gender, such as linking emotions/feelings to gender and rating the competency of males/females in STEM/non-STEM occupations. The findings suggest that gender stereotyping does exist in this age group, particularly amongst boys: for example the vast majority (95%) of boys regarded engineering as a male occupation, compared with 50% of girls. There are numerous initiatives in place to stimulate girls' interest in STEM subjects/occupations - and the research suggests that these may be having an impact - however more needs to be done to counter gender stereotyping amongst boys.

As part of the project, Alan and Cormac developed resources to be used by teachers and parents that explicitly target gender stereotyping amongst primary school children.

A recording of the presentation is accessible here

The seminar was chaired by Dr Deirdre Horgan (co-convenor of the CYP Cluster), with introductions from Dr Samantha Dockray and Dr Shirley Martin.

 Clockwise from top left: Dr Samantha Dockray, Dr Deirdre Horgan, Cormac Harris and Alan O’Sullivan, and Dr Shirley Martin.

For more on this story contact:

Dr Margaret Scanlon (, ISS21 Research Coordinator.

Institute for Social Science in the 21st Century (ISS21)

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