HHS gives NYU $40,000 to study why children ‘favor Whiteness and maleness’

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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded over $40,000 to New York University (NYU) researchers to conduct a study on why children “favor Whiteness and maleness over other identities.”

The project titled, “Societal assumptions regarding typical personhood and their effects on reasoning development,” seeks to uncover the developmental processes by which 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,” according to the grant summary on USASpending.gov.

HHS awarded NYU a total of $40,391 for the 3-year project, which began in February and will conclude on January 31, 2025.

HHS gives NYU $40,000 to study why children 'favor Whiteness and maleness'

Health and Human Services awarded tens of thousands of dollars to New York University researchers to study why children "favor Whiteness and maleness over other identities."
(Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

“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 states. “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.”

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NYU researchers hope to discover through their research the “developmental trajectory” by which children’s default representations of people “begin to favor Whiteness and maleness over other identities.” 

HHS gives NYU $40,000 to study why children 'favor Whiteness and maleness'

A New York University flag flies outside a COVID-19 test tent on Aug. 25, 2020, in New York City.
(Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

“Young children actively construct knowledge to make sense of their social environments. As part of this process, children absorb complex streams of information from the sources around them, including parents, peers, and broader societal institutions (e.g. media),” the description continues. “Thus, the beliefs children acquire tend to reflect the dominant ideologies embedded in their specific cultural contexts: Within the United States, androcentrism and ethnocentrism represent two such ideologies.”

HHS gives NYU $40,000 to study why children 'favor Whiteness and maleness'

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra speaks during a news conference in Washington, June 28, 2022.
(Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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The grant was awarded as part of a program by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that “enables 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 Digital 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 read. “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.”

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