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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    1,498

    Birth Order and Gender

    In families where the girl(s) is/are all older than the boy(s), I have a hypothesis that it often makes the sibset (both then and later on in life) more open to challenging gender roles than when all the boy(s) is/are older than the girl(s). (In 3+ child families where the birth/gender order is not consecutive, the results will be intermediate between the two.) In the former case the forces of the traditional notions of gender and age in terms of leader and follower work against each other, while in the latter they work with each other. When a girl is the oldest of the family (and thus often the "leader") it makes everyone more accustomed that a female can occupy such a position (which goes against traditional gender notions).

    Has anyone noticed anything like that? Of course this is probably a minor effect that may be apparent only statistically over a large sample, but I think it might be true. (One case I can think of where the societal breaking of the glass ceiling has actually changed a codified rule is the succession to the British monarchy, where once gender trumped birth order and the rules were recently changed so the opposite is now true.)

    Another possible effect is when you have a younger boy in the shadow of an older girl, it means he'd be more likely to get "girly" hand-me-downs (as opposed to the opposite where the masses sees less problem with a girl getting "boyish" things).
    Last edited by namefan; May 2nd, 2013 at 03:32 PM. Reason: omitted a word

  2. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    156
    Quote Originally Posted by namefan View Post
    Has anyone noticed anything like that? Of course this is probably a minor effect that may be apparent only statistically over a large sample, but I think it might be true.

    Another possible effect is when you have a younger boy in the shadow of an older girl, it means he'd more likely to get "girly" hand-me-downs (as opposed to the opposite where the masses sees less problem with a girl getting "boyish" things).

    This is very interesting to me, as I have three daughters followed by a son. And that is a pattern for at least three generations on my maternal side- my grandmother, mother and I all had three daughters before having a son, as did some other relatives such as cousins (or they only have three children, all girls.)
    My older daughters help my husband in our lawn care/snow removal business. I don't know for sure whether they would if they had an older brother doing that. But they likely would.
    And little brother surely had to wear a pink sleeper, or whatever, occasionally; I don't really remember.
    Forty-something mom to three teenage girls and an eleven-year-old boy
    Foster mom to two sweet sisters born Aug 2011 and Sept 2012 and another wee girl born Aug 2013

  3. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    2,596
    Very interesting. I'm the eldest and have a younger brother (two years younger). I definitely bossed him around as a kid and still do now! He didn't really get "girly" hand-me-downs - my parents bought him his own boys things. These days he's 27 and he and his girlfriend share chores, cooking, etc. They both work full time and don't have kids.
    Last edited by sarahmezz; May 3rd, 2013 at 11:17 PM.
    Audrey - Beatrice - Clara - Daphne - Flora - Jane - Mabel - Susannah

    Arthur - Barnaby - Edward - Frederick - Henry - Rupert - Theodore - Walter

  4. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Posts
    491
    It sounds like a very plausible theory - I do think there are a lot of other factors, mainly how strictly the parents/family are wanting to follow gender roles. I'm not even sure it's something that could really be studied or proven because of the mass amount of factors - schooling, nature, the family, etc.

    I think one interesting case would be with twins. My cousins' family includes an eldest daughter and twin sons (one year younger than their sister). One of the twins is very much into sports, girls (they're 15), and typical boyish/manly things, while the other twin, while he has some outdoorsy, boyish interests, played with mainly dolls as a child, wanted a pink bicycle, and now is into many typically feminine hobbies, like cooking, crafts, etc. Very much moreso than his sister. I have a strong feeling that if he was the only boy in the family, he would not have been supported in those interests. I don't know what would have happened if they had the twins first and then their daughter, either. I have a feeling my more feminine cousin would have latched onto any dolls or pink things he could have gotten his hands on as a baby, sister or not.
    Lillian Elizabeth 6.16.13

  5. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Des Moines, IA
    Posts
    392
    I'm a sib set of 3. Girl, 3 years then a boy followed by a girl 13 months apart.

    No gender roles in our house growing up. Everyone did everything - dishes, dusting, etc. I liked to mow the lawn, we all love to cook. Dad was more sensitive than Mom 80% of the time, so we weren't hindered by tradition. The girls are more organized and educated. My brother was more influenced by what others thought of him. At 30 yrs old, he's just now figuring it all out.

    Take what you will from that.

    I have a singleton, a son. He is very open and sensitive. very " boy" by nature, he's a Bash Brother who loves wrestling, can identify cars by their tires, but also wants to paint his toe nails - in blues, greens or blacks. and his favorite color is purple. My husband was a little put off by this at first, but it doesn't bother him anymore. the only gender issues our son has - my in-laws, who are very into gender roles when it comes to the household.
    Mom to:
    Weston Christopher, July 2008
    Keegan Nathaniel,
    Dec. 12, 2013
    Sebastian Miller,
    Dec. 12, 2013

    Current loves:
    ~ Emerson ~ Eden ~ Rosalind ~ Caroline ~ Matilda ~ Gemma ~

    ~ Landon ~ Kellan ~ Asher ~ Griffin ~ Archer ~ Edison ~ Holden ~ Harrison ~ Elliot ~

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