Children, Youth, Families & Schools, Nebraska Center for Research on


Document Type


Date of this Version



Social Development. 2023;1–22. DOI: 10.1111/sode.12725


Open access.


The present research applied a multidimensional framework to the study of gender stereotypes by investigating whether elementary school children display different levels of endorsement when considering distinct gender stereotype constructs (ability, category, and interest) and feminine versus masculine stereotypes. Study 1 (N = 403) compared children’s ability and category beliefs using a set of gender-neutral skill items. Study 2 (N = 539) extended this research by examining whether children showed different patterns of ability and category decisions for feminine versus masculine occupational items. Study 3 (N = 974) furthered our understanding of the construct dimension by comparing children’s interest and ability decisions within the STEM domain. Findings revealed that older elementary school children endorsed ability stereotypes more strongly than category stereotypes and, across all age groups, children endorsed interest stereotypes more strongly than ability stereotypes. Findings also revealed age differences in how children think about masculine versus feminine stereotypes. For masculine stereotypes, younger children showed stronger endorsement than older children; however, for feminine stereotypes, the reverse pattern was found such that older children showed more stereotyped thinking than younger children. The present study illustrates the benefits of employing a multidimensional framework to gain a more nuanced understanding of how children apply their increasing knowledge of gender stereotypes.