Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Human Sciences and Education

Document Type



This dissertation examines the hidden curriculum of gender socialization in early childhood classrooms. Purposes of this study included exploring how teachers’ beliefs about gender are enacted in activities, roles, and relationships with children to inform and recommend future directions for gender conscious education and pedagogies. This dissertation includes an assessment of participants’ gender schema, an analysis of participant interviews and focus groups, field notes from classroom observations and artifact collection. This study draws on Brofenbrenner’s (2005) bioecological theory of human development, positioning teachers as a primary engine of development in a child’s life. Cognitive-developmental theories are forwarded to explain gender as a salient organizing principle and the process by which gender develops over the lifespan and Freire’s critical consciousness is a concept that frames the discussion about enacting meaningful change to normative gender discourse present in early childhood classrooms. This dissertation employs critical ethnography as a methodology wherein I approach the study as a social critique, aiming to locate participants’ meanings in larger systems of politics, economy, and history (Carspecken, 1996). The goal of this research is to increase teachers’ awareness of their critical role as cultural guardians of gender discourse and deepen teachers’ critical reflection and consideration of gender conscious pedagogies and representation of gender expansive identities in classroom materials and objects.



Committee Chair

DiCarlo, Cynthia



Available for download on Friday, November 01, 2024