The US Department of Health and Human Services awarded New York University with over $40,000 to research why children “favor whiteness and maleness over other identities” in a project titled “Societal assumptions regarding typical personhood and their effects on reasoning development.”
Fox News reports that the project will seek to study the developmental process wherein children “acquire the belief that White males represent the default person – a pattern rooted in the ideologies of androcentrism (centering the experiences of men) and ethnocentrism (centering the experiences of White people) prevalent in the United States,” the project summary reads.
The study, which started in February, will continue through January of 2025.
“Despite national rises and racial and gender diversity, White men remain vastly overrepresented across a host of domains within the U.S., from media, to politics, to clinical research,” the project description reads. “Such overrepresentation poses severe costs to the rest of society – women of all races, men of color, and gender-nonconforming individuals – particularly within the domain of health, where clinical trials have historically prioritized the experiences, perspectives, and health outcomes of White men.”
The project seeks to understand “when and how the tendency to view white males as default people develops across childhood, as well as the environmental factors that underlie this phenomenon.”
“Specifically, we need to know (A) the developmental trajectory by which children’s default representations of people begin to favor whiteness and maleness over other identities, (B) the specific domains across which children do (and do not) activate a white male default to guide social reasoning, and (C) the socio-cultural and ecological factors that can prevent the development of these beliefs,” it continues.
Fox News says the grant was awarded thanks in part to the National Institutes of Health (NIH.)
The program will “enable promising predoctoral students to obtain mentored research training while conducting dissertation research. The purpose of the training grant is to help postdoctoral students gain the research skills needed to eventually become independent researchers,” NIH told Fox News in a statement.
“As part of the doctoral dissertation research plan for this specific training grant, the researcher is developing a study to assess how children form ideas and assumptions about what a typical person looks like and how this view may develop and change across childhood,” the statement continued.
“This research will address the developmental trajectory of children’s beliefs that often tend to select Whiteness and maleness over other identities when thinking of who represents a typical person. The research will test whether this belief is established early in development, or if children’s representations of a typical person may first reflect their own-gender biases (i.e., with girls favoring females and boys favoring males) and then may shift in middle-childhood,” it continues.
The project says that it will research children’s “beliefs that while males — more so than black males, white females, or black females — best exemplify a person.”