It is critical for children to recognize gender inequalities and grow without stereotypes or prejudices in order to create a more equitable society. Teaching equality, in a cross-curricular way, from different subjects to areas of the school, is the first step to combat inequality.
As young as the age of six, girls start to perceive themselves as less intelligent than boys, according to a research led by New York University, University of Illinois and Princeton University and published by Science magazine, which had studied over 400 children between ages five and seven.
This misconception has a detrimental impact on girls’ decisions upon completing elementary school, and it explains why there are less women than men pursuing education in areas such as Physics, Engineering or Philosophy.
An Adecco report that surveyed more than 2,000 students between ages 4-16 brings to light how sexism is present from a shockingly early age.
More than 50% of the children in this survey considered women responsible for housework. Moreover, according to this report, children continue to have their aspirations set on roles that conform to traditional gender stereotypes.
How would you assess the state of equality in your classroom? Do girls and boys play together and under non-stereotyped roles? Do you use inclusive language in and out of school? Do you show inspiring female figures in your lessons? Do you want to know what else you can do to help children build critical knowledge to face sexist generalizations? Here you are some good initiatives!
Strategies to promote gender equality in the classroom
Playing never fails
Use inclusive game-based activities avoiding roles and including mixed teams. No matter if you are in the classroom or the playground, make playtime free of stereotypes, since these are also great moments for learning.
We must look out and make sure that sexist behavior or misconduct do not take place. If they do, introduce activities to reflect on gender equality.
Be a role model
Children learn by imitation. Behave appropriately with other teachers and students and be coherent with your discourse. Make your own behavior a role model for others to follow!
Division of tasks
You can create an environment of equality and respect in the classroom by making boys and girls share responsibilities and work together to complete tasks or solve problems.
Answer students’ questions about personal relationships, sexual orientation, roles, capacities or differences among people. On top of keeping students informed, being upfront can also help de-stigmatize taboos to prevent students from perpetuating stereotypes and misconceptions.
Invite women as guest lecturers who can speak about their career and experience to set an example for students. Students will learn on firsthand the responsibilities, commitments, skills and efforts achieved by women and will develop reasoned ideas of their role in society.
Choose the correct school material
Select teaching materials that reinforce the notion of equality. For example, textbooks and workbooks may include messaging encouraging students to feel open to explore different professions.
Activities that add value
Find ways to incorporate these topics in your curriculum; plan a workshop on gender equality and help children fight against sexist behaviors from a very early age. These workshops can help children adopt an equalitarian attitude through games and resources.
Make families aware of the importance of continuing at home the gender equality education given at school.
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