Same toys = Different skills: Exploring the impact of gender stereotypical activities on skill development in nursery children


   Department of Psychology

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  Dr Kagari Shibazaki, Dr E Somogyi  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Applications are invited for a fully-funded three-year PhD to commence in October 2024.

The PhD will be based in the Department of Psychology (Faculty of Science & Health), and will be supervised by Dr Kagari Shibazaki and Dr Eszter Somogyi

Candidates applying for this project may be eligible to compete for one of a small number of bursaries available. Successful applicants will receive a bursary to cover tuition fees for three years and a stipend in line with the UKRI rate (£18,622 for 2023/24). Bursary recipients will also receive a contribution of £1,500 per year towards consumables, conference, project or training costs.

Costs for student visa and immigration health surcharge are not covered by this bursary. For further guidance and advice visit our international and EU students ‘Visa FAQs’ page

The work on this project could involve:

  • Working with professionals in a wide range of early years settings
  • Will involve carrying out professional and academic interviews with a range of adults involved in some aspect of childcare
  • The use of observation as a key research tool

Project description

Children’s life chances are heavily predicted by their development in the first five years of life and the development of gender stereotypical attitudes which may directly, or indirectly limit the expectations and aspirations of individuals, appears to be one factor preventing many individuals from achieving their true potential in later life. Given the inequalities which can stem from such stereotypical attitudes, an increased understanding of the development of potentially limiting, and therefore 'inappropriate' stereotypical attitudes in the early years is a crucial element to be addressed further. The activities that very young children engage in has been shown to have a major impact on the development of particular skills, and whilst young boys and girls may well be provided with equal opportunities and encouragement to play with identical resources, how they play, and the skills they develop through that play are in fact very different. Hence, access to the same toys can also mean the development of different skills, values and attitudes; a factor that can subsequently impact on the decisions children make, and limit the opportunities they feel able to take advantage of in later life. Therefore, given the inequalities that can stem from inappropriate attitudes, an increased understanding of the development of potentially limiting, gender stereotypes and more specifically, the impact these may have on children and how they play in the early years will be the main focus for this project.

General admissions criteria

You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

Specific candidate requirements

You will need to show you have some experience of working with, and relating to very young children along with the professionals who work in early childhood settings. A theoretical knowledge and some practical experience of working with qualitative research methods and analysis is desirable and at least a basic knowledge of quantitative analysis would be a distinct advantage.  

How to Apply

If you have any project-specific questions please contact Dr Kagari Shibazaki ([Email Address Removed]), quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, please use our online application form. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV. Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process.

If you want to be considered for this funded PhD opportunity you must quote project code PSYC8550124 when applying. Please note that email applications are not accepted.


Education (11) Psychology (31)

Funding Notes

Candidates applying for this project may be eligible to compete for one of a small number of bursaries available. Successful applicants will receive a bursary to cover tuition fees for three years and a stipend in line with the UKRI rate (£18,622 for 2023/24). Bursary recipients will also receive a contribution of £1,500 per year towards consumables, conference, project or training costs.
Costs for student visa and immigration health surcharge are not covered by this bursary. For further guidance and advice visit our international and EU students ‘Visa FAQs’ page.
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