The gender bias infiltrated another crucial aspect of society; this time, it is the education system. Young girls, boys, and even their parents have biases against girls and women as leaders. The dangerous effects of gender dichotomy are evident as new research from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. A study by Making Caring Common project shows many children perceive men as better political and business leaders whilst women voted best at childcare.
Why is it essential to avoid gender stereotyping in the early years?
Gender stereotyping limits how young girls imagine their futures. Stereotypes can convince young girls that some options are not open to them because of their gender. Gender stereotyping might take the form of little girls believing that they cannot be leaders.
Vital Imprelentations to challenge gender stereotypes:
1. On a personal level:
Begin by acknowledging where gender stereotypes affect you as an individual to know how you are projecting that aspect of reality, and you can then begin to limit speaking gender roles into existence.
2. In schools:
'Neutralise' the environment:
Have non-gender specific resources, such as loose parts play, paints and crafts, books, costumes & dress-up, posters, that inspire creativity and excite all children to play with them.
Improve gender-neutral language skills:
Substitute sexist language for inclusive synonyms. For example, 'Mankind' becomes 'humanity', 'people' or 'human beings'. And use gender-neutral language such as 'male nurse' becomes 'nurse'. 'woman doctor' becomes 'doctor'. 'Hostess' becomes 'host'.
Support girls by helping them to be conscious of their language
Talk to young girls about their understanding of gender and sexism and challenge unhealthy beliefs. Young children may have strong ideas that a particular toy or behaviour is not appropriate for their gender. When a child says that something is 'not for girls' or 'not for boys', support them in challenging those beliefs.
Allow girls to go with their thoughts and feelings, not society's expectations, e.g. it is ok for girls to want to play sports.
Teaching girls from a young age that their biological gender has no limitations on what they can achieve in life challenges instilled gender biases, and is crucial for an empowered future of girls.