Gender-Typical Appearance in Early Childhood: Role of Parental Gender-Typical Appearance and Children’s Gender Similarity

Joyce J. Endendijk*, Chiara Antoniucci, Faye Chadwick-Brown, May Ling D. Halim, Christel M. Portengen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The emergence of gender-typical appearance in childhood appears to have important implications not only for child and adolescent social-emotional functioning but also for later working life. In the current study, we examined how parents’ gender-typical appearance and children’s gender similarity (to same- and other-gender peers) were related to young children’s gender-typical appearance. We also explored differences in these associations between boys, girls, mothers, and fathers. Home visits were conducted with 74 Dutch two-parent (mother, father) families with both a son and daughter between the ages 3–6 years (96.6% White, 2.0% Asian, 1.4% other ethnicity). The gender-typical appearance of all four family members was assessed by trained and reliable coders in the videotaped observations from the home visits. As a measure of children’s gender similarity, both parents reported on the similarity of their son and daughter to same-gender and other-gender peers. Generalized estimating equations showed that more gender-typical appearance of parents was associated with more gender-typical appearance of girls, but not of boys. No differences were found between mothers and fathers for the association between parent and child appearance. Moreover, children’s gender similarity, evident in parents’ perceived similarity of their child to peers of the same gender and dissimilarity to peers of the other gender, was associated with more gender-typical appearance in children. To conclude, both children’s gender similarity and parents’ gender-typical appearance appear to play a role in the gender-typical appearance of young children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)923-937
Number of pages15
JournalSex Roles
Issue number7
Early online date19 Jun 2024
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2024


  • Early childhood
  • Gender similarity
  • Gender-typical appearance
  • Parental gender socialization


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