Major Department



College of Education


BA (Bachelor of Arts)

Session and Year of Graduation

Spring 2018

Honors Major Advisor

Laurie J. Croft

Thesis Mentor

Renita Schmidt


Today is a dynamic time for women and gender in general. More terminology and gender labels are introduced to society, popular culture has a larger representation of transgender and female leads, and in general differences are more visible to children. As educators, we must prepare to address conversations of gender and gender expression in the classroom. The data collected comes from a year of collaboration with the Strong Girls Read Strong Books book club, a qualitative research study created by Dr. Renita Schmidt and Dr. Amanda Haertling Thein. The Strong Girls group meets at a local elementary school on Friday afternoons. The larger group fourth, fifth, and sixth grade girls are split into small groups by grade level and are supervised by a University of Iowa undergraduate or Dr. Schmidt or Dr. Haertling Thein themselves. My group was four fifth grade girls whom I had worked with for a year. The book club read three different texts between six sessions with each session lasting two hours. The girls are constantly asked to reflect upon their gender and meaning of what a strong girl is. This study explored how the girls saw their own gender and reacted to males being brought into the all-female space. The results of the study suggest that students are aware of not only their gender but know how to interact with people who do not share the same gender identity as them. They recognize a binary between girls and boys but also recognize that not all girls and boys are the same, looking beyond just the texts to understand how gender worked in their everyday lives.


gender, elementary, education, literature, strong, female

Total Pages

41 pages


Copyright © 2018 Anna Haller