What is The Role of School in Gender Equality?

As we all know, the years we spend at school play a major role in shaping our values and standards for how we treat others.

Setting a standard for gender equality in the classroom can play a huge part in learning, and will encourage children to continue this thought out their lives.

Through various inclusivity techniques, teachers can help eliminate gender inequality, and nip bad habits in the bud.

Why Should Teachers Promote Gender Equality at School?

Teachers have the opportunity to shape the way children view gender. Setting a healthy standard for how male students should treat female students can help end violence against women. According to a YouGov survey, only 13% of young women’s knowledge about domestic violence comes from school. This makes sense when you find out that 9 out of 10 young women in the YouGov survey said they had not learned about domestic violence in school.

It’s everyone’s job to help end violence against women, and it all starts with education.

7 Ways to Promote Gender Equality in The Classroom | Our Top Tips to Help Promote Gender Equality

1. Avoid separating male and female students

Not only does separating students within the classroom inhibit male and female students learning to socialise with each other, but it does not allow for non-binary student to feel comfortable and seen. So, avoid things like ‘girls vs boys’ games, for example.

2. Don’t allow male students to interrupt female students when they are speaking

It’s a well-known thing that women are interrupted a lot by men.

But where did it all start? With upbringing – of course.

Boys are taught to play rough and tumble, whereas girls are taught to be stay polite and quiet. This subconsciously teaches our children – including girls – that what women have to say is less important.

Encouraging male students to listen, and female students to voice their opinions helps combat this issue at an early age. If you notice male students speaking over female ones, simply interrupt them to tell them to let the previous student finish what they were saying, and then make sure they are heard afterwards. This will ensure that they know they will be heard, but that it is not more important than the opinions of their female counterparts.

3. Promote all genders working together

Perhaps the best way to promote gender equality in the classroom is by simply encouraging everyone to work together. Teamwork is a valuable life skill regardless, but letting students of all genders work together free from stereotypes will teach them that gender really don’t matter at all.

4. Avoid stereotypes (including subtle ones)

It’s important to avoid old and sometimes well-ingrained stereotypes such as ‘blue for boys’ and ‘pink for girls’, or ‘tough boys’ and ‘caring’ girls. These are subtle things, but things that can have a huge impact on what a child’s value and self-worth is based on. According to the Children’s Society, 1 in 7 girls are unhappy with how they look. To help reduce this statistic, try to avoid commenting on girls’ appearance, and focus on complimenting their achievements and ideas.

5. Include literature that is inclusive and free of gender stereotypes

A lot of literature we all read at school is filled with gender stereotypes and outdated gender roles. Children are inspired by stories that they can relate to, with characters that look like them. Therefore, reading books about women becoming scientists, and boys becoming nurses, helps promote equal job opportunities and goals as they grow up.

Books like Mae Among the Stars, Teddy’s Favourite Toy, The Best Man, and Hidden Figures, make great literature to show a wide range of stories for all genders.

6. Swap out gendered words

It’s a good idea to start replacing phrases like “mum and dad” for “parent/s” or “caregiver/s”. This helps create an inclusive environment in which kids with same-sex parents feel included, and where every family dynamic is represented.

This is a tip we’ve all been doing for a while, but try to also avoid gendered professions like “policeman” and “fireman”, and go for “police officer” and “firefighter” instead. Here we can prevent kids from thinking they can’t aspire to certain professions because of their gender.

It’s also important for non-binary gender inclusion, that in sex education especially, we de-gender anatomy. For example, instead of saying “lady parts” and “boy bits” try to use anatomically correct terms that do not exclude transgender students.

7. Avoid assigning gender to toys and games in early years

Teachers must be proactive when maintaining an equal and stereotype-free environment in the classroom. This starts in early years. In an experiment carried out by the BBC, 3 toddlers were dressed in clothes that were typically assigned to the opposite sex.

An adult was then asked to play with each of the children, unaware of the change. All of the adults playing with what they thought was a male, encouraged them to play with fire trucks, robots, and toys that teach spatial awareness and strength. Unsurprisingly, the adults who interacted with what they thought was a female, they gave them soft, pretty-looking toys and dolls to play with.

It is important that we stop assigning toys and activities to children based on their sex, and give all kids an equal opportunity to benefit from what all different toys can teach them.

Teaching Gender Equality Values: The Future of Education

Following these tips can help you as a teacher to encourage a healthy, equal, and sustainable future for your students. We’ll all be doing our part in encouraging equal job opportunities, gender inclusion, and eradicating stereo types for good.

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