Teacher understandings of and commitment to gender equity in the early childhood setting

Kerrin Lee-Thomas, Jennifer Sumsion, Susan Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Despite considerable examination of gender and gender equity within early childhood education, gender inequity remains problematic in many early childhood settings. Using qualitative methods, the study reported in this article investigated four early childhood teachers’ understandings about gender and their commitment to promoting gender equity. It adopted a triangulated investigation of the teachers’ understandings, attitudes and commitment to gender equity that involved talking with the teachers about their practice, observing their pedagogic practice, and inviting them to reflect on gender-based scenarios. While the participants believed gender to be a significant issue for early childhood teachers, their understandings about many aspects of gender and gender equity were heavily grounded in socialisation theory. In addition, their reliance on socialisation theory seemed to contribute to a sense of fatalism regarding their capacity for intervention. The study concludes that engaging with feminist poststructuralist theory may enhance teachers’ understanding about gender and gender equity and offer a way of intervening effectively at the local level.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-27
Number of pages7
JournalAustralian Journal of Early Childhood
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • preschool education
  • sex role
  • teachers

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