Ep 176: Parenting to Prevent Bias

Episode Summary

Christia Spears Brown, PhD, author of Unraveling Bias, explains how prejudice develops in children, even if we don’t teach it to them. In this episode, we’ll learn how to have conversations about equality in our own homes.

Show NotesParenting ScriptsInterview TranscriptGuest Bio

Full Show Notes

Talking about discrimination is pretty complicated and scary…so sometimes we just don’t! We hope that if we just don’t mention offensive stereotypes or racist notions to our kids, they won’t develop prejudiced thinking. We’ll remind them that everyone is equal, and just pray that their schooling will do the rest. If we wouldn’t know what to say in a conversation about discrimination, it’s better to just abstain…right?

As much as we might wish for our kids to naturally grow up without bias, studies show that it’s bound to happen. Influences from TV, movies, video games and social media can shape the way young minds think. When young people see racist and sexist stereotypes in the media, they don’t know any better but to believe it! If we don’t teach them to think critically about what they see, they might end up with life-long beliefs about race and gender that can hurt both themselves and those around them. 

To learn more about why we need a discrimination conversation–and how to have it–we’re talking to Dr. Christia Spears Brown, author of Unraveling Bias: How Prejudice Has Shaped Children for Generations and Why It’s Time to Break the Cycle. She’s been researching the development of discriminatory beliefs in children and adolescents for nearly 30 years! Through her work, she’s discovered the real reason kids grow up with bias. Today, she’s providing us with proven ways we can combat prejudice in our own families.

In this episode, we’re diving into the psychological origins of bias in adolescents. We’re also getting into how we can change our dialogue about gender, sexuality, and family to create a more equitable world.

Parenting to Prevent Racial Bias

Although kids don’t intend to develop discriminatory opinions, they are often influenced by what they see in the media and the world around them. When Black and Latino men are portrayed as criminals on TV, or their favorite video game features exaggerated stereotypes of Asian culture, they don’t know any better but to believe it. They’ll take these influences in without thinking critically, unless they’re taught to, Dr. Brown says.

This is largely a result of certain evolutionary brain patterns that have been heavily steered by our society’s thinking, says Dr. Brown. We do have an innate tendency to categorize people, because sorting individuals into “friend” and “foe” has allowed us to survive as a species. Plus, the world can be very overwhelming to a young mind, and sorting people into categories can help kids process it all. But why don’t we have discriminatory opinions about people with different eye colors? Why is it so often about race?

Dr. Brown explains that this particular phenomenon has occurred as a result of societal influence. Because we put so much importance on racial differences, kids learn to sort individuals by race. Kids are still developing their understanding of the world, so when they see discrimination happening, they start to think that racial divisions must be necessary or proper. This is not because their parents taught them to think so, but simply because it’s what they’re observing in our racially divided society. In the episode, Dr. Brown and I talk at length about how you can intervene to stop this belief, and help your kid develop a less prejudiced view of the people around them.

But what about gender? Do kids develop beliefs about gender as part of a natural process, or is it created by external influences?

How Subtle Cues About Gender Have Serious Effects

Girls are just as capable as boys are at math and science…so why do they so often believe they can’t measure up? Dr. Brown says that young men and boys show high rates of confidence in their math abilities, while women are much more likely to have intense anxiety surrounding mathematical activities. Girls tend to exhibit underconfidence when math is involved, and often don’t raise their hands, even when they’re sure they have the answer, Dr. Brown tells us.

Where does this lack of confidence come from? Dr. Brown explains that it develops over time as a response to subtle notions about female inferiority. Studies show that parents are much more likely to ask female students if they need help with math homework over male students. Educators often attribute male success at math to natural brain power, while young women are told that the reason they aced a math test was because they studied really hard, says Dr. Brown. Although adults aren’t aware of these subtle cues, they often come from our unconscious mind, she explains.

Schools play a part in this problem as well, says Dr. Brown. When kids are asked to name a male genius, they’ve got plenty of names on the backburner. But when prompted to come up with a female genius, kids are usually stumped. Dr. Brown suggests that the origin of this issue is the posters that we choose to hang up in our classrooms and libraries. They so often idolize white men, says Dr. Brown, and rarely ever show some diversity! Studies show that when these posters change, kids are more capable of listing women and people of color who’ve made valuable contributions.

A little representation goes a long way. Dr. Brown and I continue to discuss the importance of visibility in our conversation.

Why Visibility Matters

For kids who are still developing self esteem, it’s important to know that no matter their race, gender or sexuality, they can live a happy and successful life. Dr. Brown explains that this is especially critical for young people within the LGBTQ+ community. Kids who have these identities are statistically much more likely to develop depression and suicidal tendencies. Reading books and interacting with media that exhibits positive representations of life as a gay person can be very impactful, says Dr. Brown.

Young women are also often dissuaded from their ambitions because of lack of visibility, Dr. Brown explains. Girls on TV are either pigeonholed as being sexy and popular, or smart and educated–without the possibility of being both. This means that some girls stop trying to get the answers right on tests or keep their good grades hidden, because they’re scared of being categorized as smart instead of likable. The more you can encourage young women to think critically about this stereotype, the better, says Dr. Brown.

Boys have been shown to develop these same stereotypes about women, leading to sexism that pervades into adult life. It’s equally as important for young boys to see women in power as it is for young girls to see it, Dr. Brown explains. If you can put intentionality behind the kind of things your kids are exposed to, it can be a critical way to help them create more realistic and empowering images of people of all genders, races, and sexualites.

In the Episode…

With Dr. Brown’s advice, we can take steps to shape the next generation into powerful advocates of equality. On top of the topics discussed above, we also talk about:

  • Why some kids think it’s illegal for a woman to be president
  • How we can create true diversity in schools
  • Why we shouldn’t tell kids to be “colorblind”
  • How you can empower your kid to stand up for others

If you want to learn more, check out Dr. Brown at christiabrown.com or @christiabrown on Twitter and Instagram. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week!


Parenting Scripts

Word-for-word examples of what to say to your teen

1. If your teen complains about having a conversation about race:

“All kids pay attention to race, they attribute certain traits and characteristics to racial groups, and unless we talk about it and correct them, then those ideas are allowed to strengthen and get more entrenched.”

-Christia Spears Brown

2. Get your teen to think about how they can intervene when they see injustice:

(Members Only)

3. Drop some knowledge about empowerment:

(Members Only)

Complete Interview Transcript

Andy: I read this book, Unraveling Bias: How Prejudice Has Shaped Children for Generations and Why It’s Time to Break the Cycle. Clearly you have a lot of your own research that you cite in this book, as well as research from a lot of other labs, so this is clearly something you’ve spent a lot of time investigating. Can you talk a little about where that came from ,or where this interest came from and why you then decided to turn it into a book?

Dr. Brown: Sure. I’m a developmental psychologist and a professor, and I have always done research on how kids form stereotypes and how they understand discrimination. I started that into graduate school, was the focus of my research, and so my whole career that’s been the topic. I started that research in the late nineties and so have done it for a long time, and society continues to have the same issues over and over and over again, right? It morphs a little bit, immigration is often an issue that we talk about now, it wasn’t as much in the late nineties in terms of children at the border and what kinds of policies we have there, so different things have been salient over time, but it’s always been an issue.

Dr. Brown: And so I’ve been increasingly interested in not just publishing in research journals, which is the trade of academics and researchers, but to really talk to people that live and work with kids and have kids in their communities of care. Because the idea is that this affects really all kids and yet people are wanting to know what the science says, but the scientists aren’t doing a great job of talking to people that actually work with kids, and love kids and raise kids. So that was kind of the idea of the book, was how do we talk about this in real families, in real schools, in real communities? Because it’s going to take everybody pitching in and it shouldn’t just live in a academic journal about developmental psychology.

Andy: Yeah. Just so much interesting stuff in this book that really changed the way I think about a lot of these issues, and one even basic one right at the beginning was just talking about where bias comes from. I think a lot of parents think, as long as I just kind of don’t teach my kids to be biased, then they won’t be. And there’s some research in here showing babies, by three months old you can tell that they’re gazing longer at people the same race as the people raising them. So does that mean things just start super early and we’re just trapped in this?

Dr. Brown: Yeah. I mean, I definitely think that’s the challenge with all of this is that, as humans, because it starts so early, we typically think we must be hardwired to at least look at people and put them into categories. But it seems… There’s something that we do seem to be as humans, that makes us want to look at people and process people, so that’s one thing that we do as humans and we do it from the very beginning. It’s how we learn to survive and live as social animals. The second thing is the world is really complicated and complex and there’s a lot of variation out there, so the other trick as humans, is we sort and categorize because it helps us simplify all the things out in the world. So it’s better to, instead of process every single dog I meet, to put them into one category of dogs and to kind of just assume that thing’s going to bark and wag its tail and lick and eat, right? So it helps me sort and categorize the world.

Dr. Brown: You put those together, we unfortunately sort and categorize people and we lump a bunch of characteristics with those people. However, it seems to be that we don’t do it for every characteristic, we could do short people and tall people and big stereotypes about short and tall people. Or big stereotypes about redheads and dark haired people and blondes, which we have silly ones, but not ones that we really shape our society by. What we seem to do, we don’t have big stereotypes for blue-eyed people and brown-eyed people, so it seems to be that yes, we have this human tendency to pay attention to people and to lump them into easy to process categories, but the ones we latch onto seem to be the one society says is important.

Dr. Brown: It’s because we attach meaning to race and we use race, we’re sorted by race, families typically, single race families, everyone is the same race in the household. The schools are segregated. Television shows are often segregated. The world looks someone decided Latino people live in this neighborhood, Black people live in this neighborhood, White people live in this neighborhood, so kids pay attention to those cues. When it comes to gender, we say, “Good and morning boys and girls. What a smart girl you are. Let’s line up girl, boy, girl, boy,” we’re constantly labeling it. We have to go to the girls’ restroom or the boys’ restroom, so kids latch onto that stuff because it’s like big neon arrows saying, these are the groups to pay attention to let’s pay attention to them.

Dr. Brown: Then you have all the structural biases that make inequalities in place. Because of history of oppression and racism, we have inequalities in terms of who has more wealth and who has higher paying jobs. Then you put all this societal meaning and so then you get the biases that we recognize. I think if we changed how society treated the groups and we changed the structural biases so that there weren’t those disparities in terms of income and education, the way people are treated, then yeah, babies would still look at people and they might be able to even put them in categories, but they wouldn’t attach any meaning to it that was significant, right? It’d be just like how we look at blue-eyed people and brown-eyed people. We see it and we can categorize people if we were asked to, but we don’t walk around with stereotypes about brown-eyed people. I think that’s the idea, right? That we are predisposed to some things, but it doesn’t have to have all the weight if we changed how we treated groups.

Andy: So then you write that ignoring bias in childhood is not working. Parents and teachers act like children are colorblind and that if they discuss race in any way, their kids will suddenly notice race for the first time as though racial differences miraculously will be revealed after one conversation about race. That’s not really how it works.

Dr. Brown: No, because I mean yeah, they’re paying attention when they’re babies, by the time they’re three and four, they start to have stereotypes. By the time they start elementary school, they have racial prejudices. They prefer people that look them in terms of their racial group and will tell you to your face, if you ask them questions about it. I always think that people who assume that kids are colorblind, have never given their kids a racial attitude questionnaire, because when you actually ask them about it, it is a little bit horrifying. That’s all kids and I don’t think that it’s a deeper thing. I think that all kids pay attention to race, they attribute certain traits and characteristics to racial groups. And unless we talk about it and correct them, then those ideas are allowed to strengthen and get more entrenched.

Andy: Then you talk about the studies with dolls and they do these doll studies with kids. Then you have a thing in here about CNN redoing this doll study later on and finding the bias really only in White kids. How does this work and why is that significant?

Dr. Brown: Yeah. One of the first studies that ever looked at kids’ ideas about race was done in the forties and they were really kind of famous and it was Clark and Clark. And it was, as I talk about the book a lot, really the basis for some science that they used in Brown v. Board of Education to desegregate schools. What they found back then was that, they interviewed Black kids, young Black children about which doll they liked better and they showed them a white and a black doll, and they said, “Which one is the nice one? Which one do you want to play with? Which one looks like you? Which one is dirty?” And what they found was these Black kids in the forties said they liked the white doll better and that they wanted to play with that one and that they thought that was the nicer, smarter doll, basically. There’s some more nuance to it, but that’s the crux of it.

Dr. Brown: So the idea was that Black kids were seemingly rejecting the thing that looked like them, and that, that made people really concerned because you want kids to feel proud of the group that they’re from. So that’s what led, in many ways to the Supreme court change about how schools were segregated, saying that when you have Black kids that seem to have kind of low self-esteem about their racial group, that’s troubling, and so we need to undo how we’re doing things in the country. Well over time however, what we’ve seen is that movements over the seventies and eighties, so some people attribute it to a movement in the seventies called the Black is Beautiful movement of really having racial pride, and within Black families really talking about the great things about being Black or African American, for example. And that that culturally real shifted how kids were thinking about their own race.

Dr. Brown: So now when you ask Black kids, as they did on CNN, an Anderson Cooper special, about which doll they liked and who was nice and smart and all of those things, most Black kids are like, “The black doll is.” So that, what they kind of talked about, self hatred of the forties, has really seems to have gone away. However, if you ask White kids, White kids still look really pretty biased and when they gave lots of other measures, the White kids are really still saying the Black doll is bad, and this is consistent across lots of racial attitude studies.

Dr. Brown: Typically kids of color look really unbiased so they’ll say both groups are nice. Both groups are smart. Both groups are equally valuable. White kids however, typically say White people are the best. White people are nicer and smarter, and more positive qualities. So what you see typically is White kids show the most biases and that was illustrated in that doll study that they captured on TV. What was noticeable about that was then the parents of those White kids that were expressing racial biases, were pretty horrified by seeing their kid express racial biases.

Andy: I didn’t teach them that, I don’t know where they would’ve.

Dr. Brown: Right, right. I think that’s what’s true for a lot of White parents, is if they could hear their White kids give answers to these, I think a lot of people would be horrified because it’s not as though it’s taught at home. The problem is though, it’s never talked about at home. Whites treat typically race as a taboo topic and so White kids have developed lots of attitudes that parents are probably oblivious to.

Andy: Yeah, I see. Where does that come from?

Dr. Brown: Because kids are really smart and they pay attention to the world. I think parents often-

Andy: Yeah, subtle things.

Dr. Brown: Yeah, I think parents often assume they’re the sole source of information to their kids, and I mean, I have two kids too, so I get it, as a parent, I-

Andy: As long as I don’t tell them racist things, they will not develop those attitudes. Yeah.

Dr. Brown: Right, but kids seem to do, it’s a thing we call their constructivist, so they tend to look at the world and construct their own explanations, and often their explanations are biased. An example of how they do this is, there was a study done right before Barack Obama was elected president, so not that long ago, but we had not had a Black president before when this study was being done, but it was in the 2000s. The researchers were asking kids, “Have you noticed about the race of the presidents?” And were asking about why? “Why do you think there’s never been a Black president?” And a third of the kids, a third of even the Black kids said it’s against the law for Black people to be president.

Andy: Wow.

Dr. Brown: Yes. A third of girls thought it was against the law for a woman to be president, and so idea that-

Andy: Well it’s confusing because it is against the rules for them to play in the NBA.

Dr. Brown: Right, and if you look at it in kids’ view, I mean the point of this too is that clearly no one ever told kids it’s against the law for women or Black people to be president.

Andy: Of course not, yeah.

Dr. Brown: But if you look at the poster in every class in America, of all the presidents, it looks like someone made a rule, right?

Andy: Right.

Dr. Brown: It looks like someone said, “Oh, they have to be White guys.” especially for kids who live in a rural-based world where their life is dictated by rules, and so it’s a kind of logical explanation, but it’s clearly the kids constructed it on their own. So what we see is that kids seem to look at a world in which there’s differences in wealth, there’s differences in incarceration, there’s differences in how media portrays who’s in a gang versus who’s the boss. So kids then take all those pieces of information, that input, and come up with an explanation and if-

Andy: And say, “I see what’s going on here. Okay, yeah.”

Dr. Brown: Yeah, and if parents aren’t talking about it and helping kids develop a schema for all of that and a different explanation, then kids are going to come up with, well, one group must be better than the other group, right? That’s the logical explanation if you don’t have help understanding structural racism or other kinds of inequality or discrimination. So kids are left to come up with their own logic, which is often pretty flawed.

Andy: Something interesting that you brought up in your book is that, it’s about schools and it’s about racial and ethnic breakdowns of schools. You say that schools with a really even integration of two racial ethnic groups, a 50/50 mix, show the highest rates of racial segregation in friendships. Where for example, Black kids are only friends with other Black kids and White kids are only friends with other White kids. What’s going on here? Doesn’t it seem like making it an even mix is the best way to get kids to have cross-cultural friendships and see each other as normal?

Dr. Brown: Yes, that’s what’s a tricky finding and it’s been shown in enough studies that I buy it’s what happens in there.

Andy: It’s reliable, yeah. Okay.

Dr. Brown: Yeah, is yes, there needs to be a balance, but what seems to be the best balance is when it’s more than just the two groups. So when it’s two, it’s like two teams battling each other.

Andy: Right, yeah. It creates this us versus them.

Dr. Brown: Right, it’s like just an us versus them. Right, so if there’s more variation, so throw in Latino kids and Asian kids, and maybe some indigenous kids, and you have more variation, then it does seem to be the best. So definitely diversity is really good. You want a mix of kids, it just seems to be better if it’s truly diverse in that there’s lots of variations sprinkled in, than if it is only two groups that are evenly kind of matched, it seems to be more us versus them. Schools that were actually a reflection of the country, for example, so the country has a big mix of particularly White, Black and Latino, and so schools where those groups are pretty equally mixed, or at least… Even if it’s not 33% across, but a big enough mix that everyone has critical mass, right? So, no one’s in the sharp minority, that seems to be the best for breaking down those group divisions.

Andy: It’s really interesting. That’s pretty hard to get around, the fact that a lot of times it’s going to be about 50/50 boys and girls.

Dr. Brown: Yeah, and so boys and girls are a different… It’s an interesting thing. In the book I do, I talk about race and gender and sexual orientation, and so in a lot of ways, there’s similarities, in a lot of ways there’s differences. One of them is boys and girls are pretty 50/50 for the most part, although there’s lots of kids that are non-binary and don’t fit in those categories. So with gender I recommend though that, what’s different about gender is we really foster segregation. When you’re in elementary school, you have girls only birthday parties or boys only birthday parties, and single gender sports and single gender classrooms, for example, like PE, and so we really foster that us versus them. I mean, think about how many times on a elementary school playground it was boys against the girls.

Andy: Yeah, right?

Dr. Brown: Right? Whereas think about, we would never do that with race, not in 2021, right? So we do really foster the us versus them, and so the disadvantage of that and why I think that’s a thing we want to move away from, is it allows girls to develop good friendships with girls, but treat boys as kind of foreign beings that you’re only interested in for dating, for example, and boys foster the same thing. Boys are only friends and then girls are only objects to date and it prevents us from developing cross-gender friendships, which are going to be critical for later life. We need to figure out how to develop friendships that are not romantic or sexual, but are just, we treat each other as individuals for friendship.

Dr. Brown: And I think would lead to a lot better relationships, particularly for straight couples who then are going to be forced to live with someone of another gender if they partner up with them in adulthood. But if we’ve never had times to be actual, legitimate friends, it makes it much more complicated. Think it also fosters things like sexual harassment and a lot of other pretty destructive behaviors in adolescence. Probably because boys and girls have just never had this history of interacting with one another, and then you throw hormones into the mix and they don’t really know what they’re doing.

Andy: There’s some really interesting stuff in here about gender, and one thing that I found really fascinating was you talk about that girls are expected to be the good students in class, but not the best students. When researchers asked elementary school aged children who does well in school by earning good grades, children overwhelmingly said girls. But when they asked, who’s really, really smart? By age six, both boys and girls said it’s the boys. I thought that’s so interesting. And you point out how actually researchers found that there’s no difference, and in fact girls tend to actually earn higher grades than boys in math and science classes. There’s not a difference in standardized test scores, but we still have this narrative that kids are learning as early as age six, that the boys are really, really smart, even though they don’t do as well in class. What the heck is going on there?

Dr. Brown: Well, it’s a funny thing in, I think it’s where the psychology of all this matters too, in that girls are doing better in math and sciences. However, where there is a significant difference is in girls’ math anxiety and math confidence. Girls have significantly, and even in big meta-analyses, so it’s a pretty robust finding, girls have more math anxiety than boys do and boys have more math confidence than girls. So you have this thing where you have equal scores, but boys are overconfident, so they’re estimating their grades as better. And girls are under confident, so estimating their scores as lower.

Andy: Interesting.

Dr. Brown: Right, so everyone is… And a similar thing with anxiety. Girls are doing really well, but are anxious about it. Boys are fine, but are not at all anxious. So you have this boys and girls both believe boys are doing better than girls are, and they’re definitely more confident than girls, even though their performance is the same. You’re seeing similar things with parents and teachers and it’s also about what types of explanations they have for the performance. So if you have boys and girls equally do well, they’ll assume the boy in math is naturally good at math, but the girl only did well because she worked really hard.

Andy: She studied a lot. Yeah, all right.

Dr. Brown: Studied a lot. So you see that attribution bias in both parents and teachers, and so it is, it’s this tricky thing of, it’s the belief that boys are good at math and so then girls start to pull away from math. They start to pull their identity out of being great math… Again, even though they’re doing well, their lack of confidence and anxiety seems to be to lead them to identify with other things, like language-based things or language arts or English. And so it is really divorced-

Andy: Yeah, yeah, yeah, because they feel more confident there.

Dr. Brown: Yeah, they feel more confident there, so it’s really frustrating finding, because you’re like, but y’all are doing well, what’s going on?

Andy: But you’re great, what do you… Yeah, right.

Dr. Brown: Yeah. It’s really subtle stuff, so thinking about parents, parents do things like when kids are doing their homework at home, doing math homework, parents are more likely to offer help to daughters than to sons.

Andy: Oh you look like you need some help there. Yeah, right.

Dr. Brown: Yeah, so it’s super subtle stuff that undercuts their confidence. Parents talk… I have a study that was led by a graduate student at UCLA, where it was looking at how often parents talk to little boys and girls, so three year olds, about math, like basic numbers, like, “Oh look, you have four grapes. Oh there’s two red cars. Let’s count the mailboxes,” that kind of stuff. And they found they did it with sons three times more than they did it with daughters. This was naturally occurring where they would record natural just conversations, so parents didn’t know this was a-

Andy: Yeah, yeah, yeah, these things you don’t even realize you’re doing it. You just like-

Dr. Brown: You don’t even realize it, right. I think it’s that really subtle cues kids are getting that lead to their endorsement of what they think they’re good at.

Andy: It goes back to what we were talking about earlier with the, “Hey, I’m not teaching my kids this stuff,” and if you ask parents, “Are you teaching your sons and daughters that math is for boys?” “No, I’m not, I would never. I don’t believe that.” And you honestly don’t, but on some level, you do, because why are you using such different language with boys and girls around it?

Dr. Brown:

Yeah, and I think that’s part of why I was writing this book too, is I think most parents would be horrified to think that their kid was learning race biases or gender biases from them. I honestly believe no parent… I mean, there’s clearly some parents.

Andy: Totally, we do not want to teach that.

Dr. Brown: Right, but I’m certain parents of girls are not saying, “Oh, I’m teaching my girl subtly that math is not for her,” right? But I think that a lot of us are, just very accidentally. I think we don’t realize how perceptive kids are.

Andy: Yeah. These subtle, subtle things add up over their entire life and make such a huge difference.

Dr. Brown: I mean, to swing it back to race and the idea of how subtle it can be, is a lot of us have implicit biases. We’ve talked quite a bit about implicit biases or the subtle biases that you’re not even conscious of or kind of unconscious biases. And what researchers find is that even when you firmly believe that groups should be treated equally, race groups should be treated equally, sometimes if you’ve seen enough racial biases in media, for example, your brain has made these connections between Black men and crime, for example. Just because you’ve seen it so much on the news, that’s biased, you see it on biased television and movies and all of that.

Dr. Brown: So you have these racial biases in your brain that are independent of how you feel in your heart, but what happens is it comes out in really subtle, nonverbal behaviors, so how much you smile at a person. How much you make eye contact, whether your body leans towards someone or away from somebody, very, very subtle. They’ve done these studies where they put kids in a lab and they show them people with these really subtle behaviors, these subtle non-verbal behaviors, and kids’ attitudes went along with their parents and these other adults’ implicit attitudes, simply based on them picking up from these non-verbal cues. So it can be like how much you’re smiling at people or making eye contact, kids are extrapolating meaning from that, and assuming mom doesn’t like this group as much as this group, so I’m going to align my attitudes. Again, it can be very different than what parents are believing in their hearts, but it’s subtly coming out in their facial expressions.


About Christia Spears Brown

Christia Spears Brown, PhD, is the author of 5 books, including Unraveling Bias and Parenting Beyond Pink & Blue. As a researcher and professor, Dr. Brown has been featured in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NBC and CBS News, Forbes, NPR, Washington Post, and CNN. She speaks globally and regularly consults with media and toy companies.

Dr. Brown is currently the Director of the Center for Equality and Social Justice at the University of Kentucky. She focuses her research on how children develop gender and ethnic stereotypes, how children understand gender and ethnic discrimination, and how discrimination and stereotypes affect children and teens’ lives. 

Christia lives in Kentucky with her family, including two kids of her own.

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