Cartoon picture of a row of people dressed for different jobs.

Tackling gender stereotyping through language and literacy

The National Literacy Trust has teamed up with Let Toys Be Toys and created a poster for teachers with top tips to challenge gender stereotyping through literacy, language and play in the classroom

Why gender stereotypes matter in school

For balanced development, children need access to a wide range of activities. 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 are ‘unmasculine’, and girls are less likely to pursue interests in science and technology subjects that they’ve learned are ‘unfeminine’.

Research by the Institute of Physics found that gender stereotyping was a key factor in limiting the aspirations of students. In the recent literature review by Fawcett Society, 45% of respondents said they experienced gender stereotyping when they were children, with more than half (51%) of those affected said it constrained their career choices.  Other research, including the Drawing the Future report, finds that by the age of seven children are already facing limits on their future aspirations in work due to stereotyping around social background, race and gender.

Research also shows that challenging gender stereotypes can help both boys’ and girls’ educational achievement, and we hope that this will be a valuable resource to help schools do this.

Wonderful – pragmatic and positive. The poster provides an excellent checklist as well as prompts for teachers to ensure that their classrooms enjoy reading and literacy to the fullest!…far beyond those gender stereotypes which do so much to close down worlds for children, limit their reading choices and their aspirations.

– Dr Fen Coles, Letterbox Library

The resource

Teachers can use this poster:

  • As a stimulus for discussion in staff meetings
  • To share as a resource
  • To display in the staff room as a reminder for colleagues
  • To share with parents as an example of good practice

Challenging gender stereotypes through language and literacy

The poster can be downloaded free here at the National Literacy Trust.

Background and links to other resources

This resource is provided as part of the National Literacy Trust’s Words for Work: Dream Big programme, which works together with schools and local businesses to support supporting Key Stage 1 pupils to develop their literacy skills, raise aspirations and challenge stereotypes.

The poster is based on the our own 10 ways to challenge gender stereotypes in the classroom.  We also have further free resources on this topic for parents, schools and teachers, including a range of lesson plans from Early Years through Year 9.

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