Sociologists emphasize that gender is a social construct so pervasive in our everyday lives that it often goes unnoticed (West and Zimmerman 1967). The two-category system ultimately perpetuates inequalities that don’t regard men and women as equals. In order to further understand how children learn about gender, ethnographic fieldwork was conducted at Hillside Elementary School in a first-grade and a fifth-grade class for three weeks. Results indicate that the formal class curriculum, behavioral sanctions, and the activities that students participate in all perpetuated the gender regime and made the rigid categorical differences of “boys” and “girls” salient in the classroom. My findings mirror previous research while also providing insight into gendered dynamics in a homogenous school district. Both teachers and peers work to upkeep gender norms, and my findings demonstrate how gender remains a taken-for-granted aspect of the social world.

Type of Work

Thesis - Limited Access

Department or Program



Hamilton College


Bachelor of Arts

Date of Graduation


Faculty Advisor

Matthew Grace

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.