Constructions of Girls in Preschool Parent-Teacher Conferences.

Markström, A-M.
Simonsson, M.
International Journal of Early Childhood, 43(1), 23-41.


The purpose of this study is to examine how gender patterns are articulated in parent-teacher conferences at Swedish preschools. More specifically the author aims to examine how girls are constructed and positioned in the conferences. The study aims to answer the question about what types of positioning and types of femininity are constructed during the interviews about girls aged three to five years.


The authors present three overall categories which they find in the conferences between parents and teachers: 1) the ordinary kindergarten girl, 2) the pushy and aggressive girl and 3) the “girly” girl. These terms illustrate different ways of describing a girl, and how descriptions, characteristics and evaluations of girls are constructed. Interviews about the ordinary kindergarten girl centre on the girl’s competences, such as language competences, learning competences as well as social and relational competences. Among other things, these competences cover the ability to put on clothes, to express herself accurately, to take an interest in learning and the ability to be with other children. The social competences are those which are articulated to the highest degree. Interviews about the pushy and aggressive girl centre on girls who break the norm, for example, by adopting dominating positions or by playing with boys. This category also deals with girls, who in groups challenge the social order at the preschool, for example, by being naughty at morning assembly. The last category, the “girly” girl, is the girl or girls who act in a traditionally feminine manner in their playing relations. They form close friendships and play individually as well as collectively with toys associated with girls.


The empirical material consists of interviews recorded on tape between ten female child carers and 12 parents of a total of 15 girls. Data was collected from eight preschools in Southern Sweden, and the interviews lasted between 35 and 50 minutes. The authors were not present during the interviews, and therefore the teachers recorded the interviews on tape.
The authors analysed the material within a discourse analytical framework, in which focus is on the language and the role of the language in the construction of specific interpretations of the social reality.


Markström, A-M. & Simonsson, M. (2011). “Constructions of Girls in Preschool Parent-Teacher Conferences”. International Journal of Early Childhood, 43(1), 23-41.

Financed by

The Swedish Research Council