Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences

Living Edition
| Editors: Virgil Zeigler-Hill, Todd K. Shackelford

Gender Schemas

  • Enoch LeungEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-28099-8_667-1



Gender schemas are defined as organized, abstract categories that people utilize to give meaning to their everyday lives, using such schemas to guide their behavior and information processing (Welch-Ross and Schmidt 1996). As these are abstract categories constructed by the individual, gender schemas constantly evolve as the individual ages and encounters various experiences. Similarly, as each individual is unique and representative of their own culture and social environment, gender schemas can be situated in the individual’s culture and social environment as well. These gender schemes will guide the individual’s actions and activities depending on their beliefs about what is appropriate for their gender (Meyer and Gelman 2016).


Gender begins to be differentiated when children are able to label themselves as either female or male, which is at around age 2 to 3 (Slaby and Frey 1975; Tobin et al. 2010; Meyer and Gelman 2016)....

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Bem, S. L. (1981). Gender schema theory: A cognitive account of sex typing. Psychological Review, 88(4), 354–364.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.88.4.354.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bem, S. L. (1983). Gender schema theory and its implications for child development: Raising gender-aschematic children in a gender-schematic society. Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 8(4), 598–616.  https://doi.org/10.1086/493998.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bigler, R. S., & Liben, L. S. (2006). A developmental intergroup theory of social stereotypes and prejudice. Advances in Child Development and Behavior, 34(1), 39–89.Google Scholar
  4. Martin, C. L., & Ruble, D. N. (2010). Patterns of gender development. Annual Review of Psychology, 61, 353–381.  https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.psyc.093008.100511.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  5. Meyer, M., & Gelman, S. A. (2016). Gender essentialism in children and parents: Implications for the development of gender stereotyping and gender-typed preferences. Sex Roles, 75(9–10), 409–421.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-016-646-6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Slaby, R. G., & Frey, K. S. (1975). Development of gender constancy and selective attention to same-sex models. Child Development, 46(4), 849–856.  https://doi.org/10.2307/1128389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Tenenbaum, H. R., & Leaper, C. (2002). Are parents’ gender schemas related to their children’s gender-related cognitions? A meta-analysis. Developmental Psychology, 38(4), 615–630.  https://doi.org/10.1037///0012-1649.38.4.615.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Tobin, D. D., Menon, M., Menon, M., Spatta, B. C., Hodges, E. V. E., & Perry, D. G. (2010). The intrapsychics of gender: A model of self-socialization. Psychological Review, 117(2), 601–622.  https://doi.org/10.1037/a0018936.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Welch-Ross, M. K., & Schmidt, C. R. (1996). Gender-schema development and children’s constructive story memory: Evidence for a developmental model. Child Development, 67(3), 820–835.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Educational and Counselling PsychologyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

Section editors and affiliations

  • John F. Rauthmann
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyWake Forest UniversityWinston-SalemUSA