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Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology

On-line version ISSN 1445-7377
Print version ISSN 2079-7222

Indo-Pac. j. phenomenol. (Online) vol.12 n.1 Grahamstown May. 2012 

Birth on the playground: Boys' experiences playing with gender



Jenifer Millan




Using photographic documentation to understand the extraordinary in the ordinary and the experiences of young children in an early childhood education center, I began to wonder how children's interactions define their identity formation. This research looked at how boys reconstruct their identity based on the knowledge gained from those around them. Specifically, the study investigated the ways in which boys explore gender roles in relation to pregnancy and birthing. Using a phenomenological approach, the purpose of this research was to explore the meaning of young children's gender and identity play, and the experiences they take to form their identity in the early childhood setting. During the course of the study I drew meanings from the boys' pretend playing pregnancy and gender role development. From three emerging themes, I came to the conclusion that the boys were not necessarily defining "boy" or "girl", but using their play to make meaning of another individuals' experience as related to gender.



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About the Author



Jenifer Millan received a BS in Human Development and Family Sciences and a Master's of Arts in Teaching. She is currently a graduate student at Portland State University working on her doctorate in Educational Leadership with a specialization in Curriculum and Instruction focusing on Early Childhood Education. Jenifer's areas of interest include early childhood and elementary curriculum design, arts and play based education, and phenomenological research. E-mail address:

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