Raising children in a gender-neutral way

"Do boys just like dredgers, or because they get a dredger T-shirt as soon as they are born??", asks a mother. Another is happy that her two daughters are now building their own dollhouses: lego has launched a range especially for girls, but including a beauty salon and lipsticks. Not only on playgrounds, but also in science, the debate is raging: to what extent do genes, hormones and education determine the interests and behavior of boys and girls??

Yes, there are differences in the brains of boys and girls, writes u.S. Neuroscientist lise eliot in her book "pink brain, blue brain (pink brain – blue brain). For her work she has analyzed numerous studies. The differences are small, however, and the child’s brain is so malleable that the gender stereotypes are only imprinted by the environment over time.

"In our society, gender is one of the characteristics that form identity. It is irritating for all of us when we have someone in front of us and don’t know whether it is a man or a woman", says the educational scientist prof. Hannelore faulstich-wieland from the university of hamburg. It is important for the children to have an orientation.

The other question is: what do I forbid my child?? "If it’s important for a girl to have a pink period with her friends, that shouldn’t be forbidden. But that’s exactly what I would recommend if a girl wants to play soccer", says faulstich-wieland. It’s about saying: "you are a real girl or a real boy, no matter what you are interested in".I think parents should be relaxed about it."

However, the educationalist would like to see the toy industry refrain from gendering toys, as she believes this would help children.

From classroom observations, the teachers knew that the "strongest pedagogical reaction" would be with maladjusted girls who were not socially engaged and content-oriented. "Anything that is out of the ordinary for these girls is seen as very negative. Boys who are very motor-minded, on the other hand, are judged negatively, especially in adolescence, and are quickly labeled as "stubborn, says proll.

So there are still some issues to be solved, also in the choice of career. Girls continue to choose mathematical and technical professions less often, and young people less often choose social fields of activity, says proll. The choice of toys plays a role in shaping attitudes, but is not the only decisive factor. "If children can gain experience with technology or experiments at an early age, their interest in such a profession also increases. But if I give a girl a toolbox and she never sees a woman holding a hammer, she probably won’t play with it either. So it also depends on how strongly the roles in the family are stereotyped."

From an early age, children want to find out how boys and girls differ from each other. "The formation of identity begins in infancy. It’s all about the "I" and setting oneself apart from others," says jacob, says karin jacob of the SOS family center berlin. "I think we have become more open and there is more freedom. But I also think that the genders are still brought up very differently. The toy industry with its separate play worlds can only be so successful because it "hits something in us as parents", says jacob, who is a board member of the federal conference for educational counseling.