Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Education (Ph.D)


Administrative and Instructional Leadership

First Advisor

Rosalba Corrado Del Vecchio

Second Advisor

Catherine Di Martino

Third Advisor

Ceceilia Parnther


The purpose of this qualitative case study was to investigate gendered play in early childhood settings by examining how preschool educators’ perceptions of gender create spaces that support gender exploration and expression. The study seeks to answer the following questions: 1. What are pre-k teachers’ perceptions of gender? 2. How do pre-k teachers’ perceptions of gender influence curriculum planning? 3. How do pre-k teachers understand gender inclusivity? The theoretical framework guiding this study and subsequent analysis of the data is Kohlberg (1966)’s social and cognitive perspective, as is an extensive literature review. Participants of this study were early childhood prekindergarten educators from three Greek Orthodox parochial schools in the boroughs of Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens. Participants participated in virtual one-on-one interviews and focus groups, using semi-structured open-ended questions for discussion and reflection. To triangulate the data, student records and artifacts were also reviewed. The collected data was coded, corroborated, and analyzed to formulate meanings, codes, and clusters for commonly identified participant-specific themes. Analysis of the data revealed three overarching themes emerged and three subthemes raised for each. The first overarching theme was the teacher’s personal and professional identity, and the subthemes were life experiences, human diversity in the classroom, and leadership and policy. The second overarching theme was agents of children’s gender development, and the subthemes were biology, family, teacher, peer influences, and social expectations. The third overarching theme was promoting gender inclusivity in the preschool classroom, and the subthemes were gender flexible pedagogical practices, professional development, and resources. The implications of these findings for educators, school leaders, and policymakers is discussed.

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