Schools are an important place to tackle gender stereotypes, and toys and marketing are a great way to get children thinking about the issues.
- Ten ways to challenge gender stereotypes in the classroom
- ‘Boy books’ and boys’ literacy
- Why we must challenge gender stereotypes in schools
Lesson plans and resources for teachers
- Primary lesson plan: Reception/ Year 1
- Primary lesson plan: lower Key Stage 2
- Primary lesson plan: upper Key Stage 2
- Secondary lesson plan: Key Stage 3/Year 9
- Discussion material: images, videos, articles
Help for parents
- Parents – approaching the school about stereotyped activities
- Raising an issue with school – case study
Children are keen to fit in and quickly pick up ideas about what’s supposedly ‘for boys’ and what’s ‘for girls’ – but this can limit what they believe they can do.
Many toys and books are marketed as being for one sex or the other and children may worry if their favourite toys or hobbies challenge these stereotypical ideas. Parents and carers are often concerned that children who challenge these norms will be teased or bullied.
The Let Toys Be Toys campaign has been approached by parents and teachers highlighting problems in this area. So we’ve worked with teachers to develop resources to help schools tackle these issues in the classroom.
Why gender stereotypes matter in school
Children need access to a wide range of activities and playthings for balanced development, particularly in the early years. Believing certain things are ‘for girls’ or ‘for boys’ limits their opportunities, and can feed into bullying.
As they grow older, narrow ideas of what boys and girls are like can damage children’s chances as some boys pick up the message that learning and reading is ‘unmasculine’, and girls are less likely to pursue interests in science and technology subjects that they’ve learned are ‘unfeminine’. However, research has shown that questioning stereotypes can help both boys’ and girls’ educational achievement.
Children’s beliefs about boys and girls can be hard to shake. We hope these resources will help teachers get children thinking, and offer a way to put equal opportunities policies into action.
If you have feedback, or would like to suggest additional resources, please use the comments below.