Differences in fathers' and mothers' value and expectations of boys and girls in Mathioya division, Murang'a district.
Gitere, Agnes Muthoni
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Researchers of gender identification and gender-role formation have consistently observed the gender-role during early age period, children begin to develop a set of attitudes and behaviors organized around concepts of male and female. Research shows that parents treat children based on gender in early childhood and they usually interpret children's behavior in a gender-stereotyped manner. They have different values and expectations of gender role behavior of boys and girls, and this has been found to have a strong impact on the child's development of a sense of self and self-esteem. It also influences how children perceive themselves as males and females and this limits their opportunities. Research also shows that parents have different value and expectations of boys and girls and for their own sons and daughters. The aim of this study was to explore differences in parents' traditional value and expectations of boys and girls. Specifically, this study was carried out to establish whether there are differences in fathers' and mothers' traditional value and expectations of gender stereotyped behavior of boys and girls. An ex post facto design was used in this descriptive study. The subject variable was the gender of the parents, while the independent variables was gender of the pre-school children. The dependent variables were; value and expectations. The study was carried out in Mathioya Division of Muranga District. The subjects of the study were 30 fathers and 30 mothers who were parents of 60 pre-school children. A multiple tier sampling procedure was used to derive the sample. Three pre-schools were randomly selected and then 10 boys and 10 girls were also randomly selected from each pre-school, their fathers' or mothers' participated in the study. Fathers' and mothers' Value Questionnaire and Expectations Questionnaires were used to gather information from fathers' and mothers' on the traditional value and expectations of gender-stereotyped behavior they have of boys and girls, respectively. The t-test was used to determine whether two means were significantly different at alpha=0.05 level of significance for all the null hypotheses stated. The findings of the study were: •There was no significant difference between fathers' and mothers' traditional value of boys. •Fathers' traditional value of girls was significantly higher than the mothers' traditional value of girls. The main area of difference was in the instrumental value. The data revealed that, mothers' instrumental value of girls was lower than fathers' instrumental value of girls. •Mother's traditional value of boys was significantly higher than that of girls. •There was a significant difference in fathers' expectations of boys and girls in gender-stereotyped behaviors. Fathers' had high expectations of boys behaving better in boys' stereotyped behavior, and girls behaving better in girls' stereotyped behavior. • Fathers' expectations of boys in gender stereotyped behavior was not significantly different from that of mothers. • Fathers' expectation of girls in gender stereotyped behavior was not significantly different from that of mothers • The major reasons parents indicated for preferring boys more than girls were: 1. Boys usually assure their parents of the continuity of the family name more than girls. 2. When boys grow up, they contribute to the development of the community more than girls. 3. Boys will inherit their father's land and property unlike girls. 4. Sons provide security at home, more than girls. From the findings of the study of the study it was established that fathers' and mothers’ value boys more than girls, and they expect boys and girls to behave in a gender stereotyped manner. The study revealed that fathers value girls more than mothers do. Mothers regard the psychosocial and instrumental contributions that girls’ give to parents as less, compared to the cost of bringing them up. This study is important in relation to the value of children and gender role development. Recommendations were made for parents, teachers, policy makers, and researchers. Specifically: • The study revealed that parents in this community had a low value of girls. This could explain why women's roles have been found to be typically of lower status than that of men. It is therefore important for parents to be made aware that the way they value and treat boys and girls influences how they perceive themselves and their future behavior. Parents can be made aware of this through training in educational programs, seminars and workshops. •Trainers of teachers and trainers of trainers should stress to their students that both genders are equal though different. •Teachers should realize that they greatly influence children's behavior thus they should not reinforce gender behavior. This would ensure that the children will adopt cross gender behavior and this could reduce differences in intellectual performance. •Educational policy makers should promote gender equality. They should ensure that women have equal chances as men in the areas of training and promotions. •Curriculum developers should consider ensuring that males and females are not presented in gender stereotyped manner. Ensuring that textbooks do not portray females as doing certain tasks only or males doing different roles from females is important. This will ensure that boys and girls are not socialized in a traditional gender stereotyped way that limits their opportunities and progress. • Further research should be conducted in another environment, particularly in urban settings. This should use fathers' and mothers' from same family unit, and should focus on factors such as age, educational level, occupation, and socio-economic status. This study only focused on selected variables while others need consideration.