Institut für Soziologie

Sex hormones, childhood socialisation and gendered development of abilities and personality (Intramural Research Grant of the LEAD Graduate School)

Principal Investigators: Prof. Dr. Pia Schober and Prof. Dr. Birgit Derntl


Despite increasingly gender egalitarian aspirations, remarkable gender gaps persist in children’s early development, academic achievement and subsequent education, labour market and family choices. The question as to what extent biological factors, such as (prenatal) sex hormones, moderate or set a limit to social influences has received growing attention over the past decade. Yet our understanding of these relationships remains patchy and much remains to be explored. This project takes an interdisciplinary approach and integrates theoretical perspectives from sociology, social and clinical biopsychology and neuroscience.

First, we will conduct a literature review on how sex hormones and childhood socialisation factors in informal socialisation contexts and formal education institutions potentially influence children’s personality, academic achievement and subsequent educational choices. Thereby, we will extend existing reviews by developing a broader conceptual model and considering informal and formal education contexts and interactions with sex hormones.

To test our model, we will empirically investigate how sex hormones during gestation and parental socialisation practices may affect children’s interests, academic achievement, their personality development and subsequent choices of educational fields during different phases from birth to early adulthood. In contrast to previous studies, we want to consider prospective measures of socialisation factors across different phases of childhood. This project contributes to a better understanding of the extent to which malleable environmental conditions may be more or less effective in altering gender differences in children’s motivation, self-regulatory skills and academic achievement.