Date of Award

January 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Pauline Stonehouse


The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the attitudes and beliefs about gender and gender diversity held by certified practicing early childhood teachers in North Dakota Department of Public Instruction approved preschool programs. Selected children’s books were used to elicit qualitative responses that provided insight into teachers’ beliefs, attitudes, and practices regarding gender.

The theoretical framework for the study was based on Vygotsky’s theories on the Zones of Proximal Development (ZPD) and the More Knowledgeable Other (MKO), which focus on the importance of the role of educators’ influence in the social development of young children. The methodology for the study was based on constructivist learning theories and the constructions of attitudes and beliefs held by teachers that lead to competencies and practices that influence the construction of attitudes and beliefs in young children.

The method of the study entailed interviews which elicited responses about attitudes and beliefs about gender and gender diversity in young children, and current levels of cultural competence in addressing them. The results indicated a hierarchy of complexity regarding gender and gender diversity and that as gender topics become more complex, comfort levels decrease. Implications are that teachers are in need of professional development and resources in order to address gender issues in their classrooms.