Summary: Gender Bias in Mothers' Expectations about Infant Crawling
Emily R. Mondschein, Karen E. Adolph, and Catherine S. Tamis-LeMonda
New York University
Although boys outshine girls in a range of motor skills, there are no reported gender
differences in motor performance during infancy. This study examined gender bias in
mothers' expectations about their infants' motor development. Mothers of 11-month-old
infants estimated their babies' crawling ability, crawling attempts, and motor decisions in
a novel locomotor task--crawling down steep and shallow slopes. Mothers of girls
underestimated their performance and mothers of boys overestimated their performance.
Mothers' gender bias had no basis in fact. When we tested the infants in the same slope
task moments after mothers' provided their ratings, girls and boys showed identical levels
of motor performance. © 2000 Academic Press
Key Words: gender; locomotion; infants; parents' expectations; crawling; motor devel-
opment; gender bias.
In contrast to the large literatures on gender bias in parents' expectations in
cognitive, social, and language development (see Ruble & Martin, 1998, for
review), few researchers have examined gender bias in infant motor develop-
ment. Lack of research in this area is particularly striking because gender
differences in motor development undergo a dramatic developmental shift: There
are no differences in infancy but large ones years later.