• Examining gender salience in preschoolers through a category formation task

      Planke, Julie A. (2019-08)
      Ample evidence exists suggesting children as young as 2-years-old can successfully classify colors, various objects, and people into stereotypical male and female categories. However, it is unknown if gender categories are perceived as important and meaningful. While children have sufficient gender knowledge to categorize by gender, do they in fact perceive their environments through a gendered lens? In order to investigate gender salience, a category formation, or free-sorting, methodology was developed using highly gender-typed toys. The central focus of this thesis was to examine the usefulness of the free-sorting task as a measure of conceptual categorization abilities and gender salience (i.e., how gender schematic a child is). Additionally, measures of gender constancy and gender-related beliefs were expected to shed light on children’s sorting behaviors. In Study 1, 44 adult participants (6 males, 38 females) completed the task as well as gender-related dispositional measures to assure the validity of the toy stimuli. Preschool-aged participants were then recruited from local preschool centers and included 12 children (7 males, 5 females) ranging in age from 3 to 5 years (M = 57.17 months, SD = 5.47 months). Results of the free-sorting task revealed preschool-age children are able to utilize conceptual categorizes while sorting. Moreover, through spontaneously sorting the toys by gender, the majority (2/3) of children demonstrated that gender was indeed salient while viewing the stimulus set. These findings begin to elucidate the individual variability in the perceived importance and social awareness of gender as a social category in early childhood development.
    • Gender beyond the binary: computationally mapping gender to a spectrum using sex differences in the brain

      Williams, Reed (2022-05)
      Biological sex is far more complex than simply two categories: male and female. The mere existence of transgender and intersex individuals displays this complexity clearly on the surface, while the differences between cisgender people within their own respective categories brings this idea to a deeper level. While sex differences reveal themselves in many different scientific disciplines, this study will focus on findings in the field of neuroscience; specifically, it will narrow in on volumetric measurements of brain regions known to have differing trends across the male and female sexes. The construction of a surrogate data set driven by measurements extracted from existing literature will be used to fit a logistic regression model. The resulting probability function will be used to first create a base Biological Sex Spectrum; this refers to a representation of biological sex as a spectrum in the absence of societal influence. This probability function will then be modified to produce a Societally Influenced Gender Spectrum; this refers to a spectrum that has been influenced by the concept of the gender binary and more closely represents our current world. The comparison of these two spectra will reveal the space for an increase in gender diversity as societal views continue shifting further away from restricting gender stereotypes.
    • “We All Get Found Sometimes”: an arts-based heuristic study on a queer music therapist’s expressive music journaling

      Benson, Travis (2020-11)
      This arts-based, heuristic research documents my process as a queer and genderqueer (they/them) music therapist of creating a song cycle based on the themes gathered through lyric analysis from personal, emotional improvisational songs posted on Patreon.com between July 2018 and September 2019. The 35 songs are sorted by season, and were written based upon the major themes prevalent within each season. The result is a 5-song cycle connecting past to present, excerpts from different journals kept during the process, and the data collected from the lyric analysis. This author claims improvisational songwriting through expressive music journaling (EMJ) to get in touch with one’s deep/subconscious feelings is an effective way to: process trauma, grief, and mental illness; that it is able to bridge gaps of time; and that it will help to regard personal material one might not want to dissect without a creative outlet.