7 Ways to Promote Gender Equality in The Classroom
- Avoid separating male and female students
Not only does separating students within the classroom inhibit male and female students from learning to socialize with each other, but it does not allow for the non-binary student to feel comfortable and seen. So, avoid things like ‘girls vs boys’ games.
- Don’t allow male students to interrupt female students when they are speaking.
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 afterward. This will ensure that they know they will be heard, but that it is not more important than the opinions of their female counterparts.
- 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 doesn’t matter at all.
- 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.
- 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A lot of literature we all read at school is filled with gender stereotypes and outdated gender roles.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.
- Swap out gendered words
It’s a good idea to start replacing phrases like “mum and dad” with “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.
- 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.