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Christia Spears Brown

Research Interests:
Children and adolescents' perceptions of gender and ethnic discrimination
Gender and ethnic identity development
Social inequality
Immigration and ethnicity

Ph.D., The University of Texas at Austin (2003)


My research focuses on how children develop gender and ethnic stereotypes and how that process can be disrupted, and how children and adolescents understand and perceive individual-level and structural (i.e., policy-based) forms of gender and ethnic discrimination. My research is centered around the school context, with a focus on the role of teachers and peers, peer norms, and academic outcomes.    

Specifically, my research focuses on 3 themes.  First, I examine children’s and adolescents’ perceptions of gender and racial/ethnic discrimination.  We have conducted studies about perceptions of discrimination by teachers and coaches (Brown & Bigler, 2004; Brown, 2006), and studies about sexual harassment experienced by girls (Leaper & Brown, 2008; Jewell & Brown, 2014).  I have examined ethnic peer and teacher discrimination faced by immigrant children and their parents, funded by the Foundation for Child Development and UK Center for Poverty Research (Brown & Chu, 2016; Brown, 2017; Brown, 2019). More recently, we are focusing on how the sexual harassment and the sexual objectification of middle school girls negatively affects their academic outcomes (Brown, 2019; Nelson & Brown, 2019), and how middle school youth experience and intervene in instances of gender-based harassment directed at low gender-typical adolescents (Tam & Brown, 2019).     

Second, I examine the development of social group stereotypes. I have examined children’s stereotypes about immigrants (Brown, 2011), Muslims (Brown et al., 2017), gender non-conforming boys and girls, and with Rachel Farr, children in same-sex families.  As part of this focus, we also look at ways to reduce stereotypes among children (Aboud & Brown, 2011).

Finally, we examine how children understand social inequality and politics.  For example, with Prof. Rashmita Mistry, we have studied how children understand the overlap between race and poverty (Brown, Mistry, & Bigler, 2007). We recently published a multi-site study across the US, headed by Rebecca Bigler and Meagan Patterson, looking at how children understand the impact of gender on politics and their understanding of the political process (Patterson et al., 2019).  

Selected Publications:


  • Brown, C. S. (2021).  Unraveling BIas: How Prejudice Has Shaped Chidlren for Generations and Why It is Time to Break the Cycle. Ben Bella.
  • Brown, C. S. (2014).  Parenting Beyond Pink and Blue: How to Raise Your Kids Free of Gender Stereotypes.  Ten Speed Press.
  • Brown, C. S.  (2017). Discrimination in Childhood and Adolescence: A Developmental Intergroup Approach. Psychology Press/Taylor & Francis.       



  • Brown, C. S., Biefeld, S. D.*, Elpers, N.* (2020). A bioecological theory of sexual harassment of girls: Research synthesis and proposed model. Review of General Psychology.
  • Brown, C.S. (2020). Can conceptions of respect be useful in reducing prejudice and discrimination? Invited Commentary to Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development.
  • Salomon, I.* & Brown, C. S. (2020) Engage, ignore, stand up: Exploring how (and why) early adolescents respond to sexual harassment. Journal of Adolescent Research.
  • Tam, M.* & Brown, C. S. (2020). Early adolescents’ responses to witnessing gender-based harassment differ by their perceived school belonging and felt gender typicality. Sex Roles: A Journal of Research.
  • Brown, C. S. & Tam, M.* (2020). Gender-based discrimination in childhood and adolescence. In I. Wang & D. P. VanderLaan (Eds.), Gender and Sexuality Development: Contemporary Theory and Research. Springer.