Gender Differences in Children’s Art

Gender Differences in Children’s Art Development
Children’s Art Development and Gender

During the last forty years, children’s drawings have been studied through psychological assessments that determine children’s emotional health by an analysis of the elements of graphic content. Although art therapists and art educators study graphic indicators of problems in children’s drawings, there is no current baseline data regarding what constitutes “typical” or “normal” art development. There is currently very little research being done in this field, and even less research and literature on gender differences in children’s drawings.

The purpose of this study is twofold. First, to continue an archive of children’s art across cultures to examine if gender differences exist in drawings and children’s art development. This archive would lead to the creation of a baseline of “typical” development. The second objective is to contribute to the understanding of gender as it relates to representation in the art of children.

The archive, to be housed at a website connected to Springfield College, is in its beginning stages. It is comprised of drawings by children ages 6-11 from over 14 countries, and there are currently 500 pieces in the archive awaiting further data analysis. Dr. Alter-Muri has been contacting colleagues and art teachers from many countries and numerous areas of the United States. The drawings collected by Dr. Alter-Muri are categorized in relationship to existing theories of art development, by gender and age. The next step in this process is to determine if graphic indicators are culturally endemic; that is, if the drawings contain graphic indicators such as repeating symbols, line qualities, placement patterns and elements of design (line, shape, color, balance, etc) that can be traced to their country/culture of origin.
Future investigation will determine whether graphic indicators can shed light on the emergence of new theoretical approaches to children’s drawing development. The future goal is for collections of children’s art development to be on websites available to professors, students and those interested in related research. This research is ongoing; the archive data can be utilized for assessment, diagnosis, diversity and multicultural awareness, and the execution of other studies, Serving as a resource to professors, psychologists, students, and educators from around the world who are interested in gender studies and children’s art.
If you can collect drawings from children for Dr Alter-Muri’s research please contact her at her email address and she will send you a consent form and directions for the drawings.