What parents say

In June 2017 we asked parents what their experiences were of gender stereotypes within the early years. The results were reassuringly positive.

PatMany parents told us that nurseries and other preschool settings are set up to be inclusive:

“My kids nursery was great, son got upset at one point as he thought he couldn’t like pink. So they designed a session to reassure him.” @MogPlus

“Children’s Centre & libraries: very inclusive, no sign of sexism, effort made to include all children. Shows in the sing-songs particularly.” @entorien

“A pal was nervous @ her son starting nursery, then she went & he was in a princess dress – he loves costumes – & she knew it was gonna be ok.” @lichplz

“My mum runs a nursery, she is promoting gender equality through learning and play.” @annabelactivist

It was particularly encouraging to hear about Cat Johnston’s nursery which told parents that:
“[this week] we are going to be talking about gender and challenging stereotypes of girls and boys.”

However, some settings are still promoting gender stereotypes with children:

“Looked round one where they were telling off boy for wearing girls’ shoes in dress – up. Immediately crossed off list!”

“Daughter started nursery at 2 & within 2 months decided she wanted to be a boy ‘cause everything she liked (climbing, building) was for boys. I had a word with nursery. It was staff and other kids feeding her gender norm info… Then she said her favourite colour wasn’t red now but pink as she’d learnt “Girls like pink”. ” @localnotail

For many parents it is in the early years that they see children following stereotypes for the first time, underlining the importance of settings getting it right.

“My daughter has never been a stereotypically ‘girly’ girl but it was at nursery that she first started to believe that being female meant she had to behave in a particular way. The nursery held a ‘Princesses and Pirates’ dressing up day and it was surprising to see her spurn her pirate outfit for the first time. I wish they’d just had everyone dress as pirates, or everyone as princes / princesses.” Meg



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