Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Childhood Education and Literacy Studies

Major Professor

Jolyn Blank, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ilene Berson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sophia Han, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Tony Tan, Ph.D.


Semi-Structured Interview, Socio-Cultural Theory, Vision 2030


This study was conducted in a unique time of cultural and social change in Saudi Arabia. The new Saudi Vision 2030 promotes gender equality, and it is within this context that I investigated four Saudi preschool teachers’ perceptions of children’s gender roles in dramatic play. I focused on how the teachers have responded to the current move to think differently about gender roles in the Saudi context and the relevant policy changes. Rogoff’s sociocultural theory, which highlights the significance of cultural contexts on peoples’ perceptions, framed the study. I conducted semi-structured interviews with the four Saudi teachers. As a result of thematic analysis, I constructed the following three major themes: a) teachers privileged families’ perspectives over policy b) teachers' maintained entrenched notions of appropriate gender roles in play and c) teachers' reluctance to apply gender-inclusive play recommendations. The findings revealed that the individual teacher’s education, interactions with children and their parents, and overall, Saudi cultural values, customs, and institutions shaped the teachers’ perceptions. This research contributes to the existing body of literature by filling the gap related to teachers’ perceptions of children’s gender roles in play in Arabic culture in general and particularly in Saudi Arabia. The findings from this study have implications for promoting awareness about gender equity and social justice in the early childhood field.