Boys and Girls All Around the Town
AbstractDo you ever say you like to go somewhere, and your friend says, "Yuck, that's for girls!" or "Ewww, that's for boys!" Do this experiment to find out if there are some places that girls like to go more than boys, or vice versa.
Sara Agee, Ph.D., Science Buddies
In this experiment you will find out if boys and girls go to the same places, or if some places tend to have more of one gender over the other.
What is the difference between boys and girls? Genetically speaking, girls have 2 X chromosomes and boys have an X and a Y chromosome. When your parents had you as a baby, they had an equal chance of having a baby girl or a baby boy. This means that in most cases, there is a 50% chance of a person being born male or female. If there is not a bias towards gender, then the number of males and females in any group should be approximately equal.
How can you use this genetic factoid to test for gender bias? You can count the number of boys and girls who are present in a group and see if they are even. If there are more boys, then there is a male gender bias, an increase in the number of boys compared to girls engaging in that activity. If there are more girls, then there is a female gender bias, an increase in the number of girls compared to boys engaging in that activity. If there is not a gender bias, then the numbers should be approximately even, near 50% for each gender.You can use this to test for gender-based stereotypes.
Gender biases can be studied for many different situations. One way to look for a gender bias is to examine choice of activities (like sports, shopping, or cooking) between boys and girls. In this experiment, you will choose different places to observe people and look for a gender bias by counting the number of boys and girls that you see. Try choosing places like the grocery store, the library, the basketball court, or a coffee shop, that you think will reflect an activity that is associated with a gender bias. Which of these places will show a gender bias, and which activities do they represent?
Terms and Concepts
To do this type of experiment you should know what the following terms mean. Have an adult help you search the internet, or take you to your local library to find out more!
- gender bias
- Which places will have more boys than girls? Girls than boys?
- Will most places be 50/50?
- Will some places be surprising, and go against stereotypes?
- Wikipedia contributors, Stereotype, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved August 10, 2006.
Materials and Equipment
- pen or pencil
- Decide on where you will go to collect your data. You will need a data table to keep track of your results. Here is an example of how to organize a data table for this experiment:
Location Number of Males Number of Females Total Number of People % Male % Female Grocery store Basketball game Library etc...
- Print your data table and bring it to each location, along with a parent or guardian to accompany you. Also bring a clipboard to write on and a pencil to write with.
- Watch the location, counting the numbers of boys and girls you see, making hash marks in your data table. You should try and observe at least 50 different people at each location. The more people you observe, then the better and more meaningful your results will be!
- When you are done observing the different locations, it is time to count up your data. Add up the total number of marks for each category: male or female. Then add the two numbers together to calculate the total number of people.
- You will want to express your results as a percentage. This way, if you observed more total people at the grocery store than at the playground you can still compare your results. To calculate the percentage of females, divide the number of females by the total number of people from that location and multiply your answer by 100. To calculate the percentage of males, divide the number of males by the total number of people from that location and multiply your answer by 100.
- Now you can make a graph of your data. A bar graph is the best type of graph for this type of data. Put a percentage scale on the left side of the graph (the Y-axis) from 0 to 100%. Draw a bar for each gender from each location up to the correct percentage value. Now you can analyze your results by looking for gender bias. Where did you find them?
Ask an Expert
- Gender bias can also be found in preferences. You can use a survey to ask participants about their preferences. Do boys and girls choose different books, games, sports, TV shows, or movies? Do boys and girls prefer different colors? What other stereotypes can you test?
- Gender is only one type of bias. There can also be bias in age, class, ethnicity, or religion among participants. Devise a study that looks for other types of bias in the community. Can you think of a way to challenge the stereotypes?
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