5 Ideas for Working on Gender Equality in the Classroom
Education in values for boys and girls is the basis for changing the stereotypes and prejudices that still exist in society. Therefore, what could be better than working on gender equality in the classroom?
With good ideas, it’s possible to encourage children to carry out activities that allow them to reflect on discriminatory behavior, such as the use of sexist language and the perpetuation of sexual stereotypes.
According to Clara Alemann, a specialist in social and political development programs with a gender perspective at the Inter-American Development Bank, we can achieve change by “encouraging non-sexist games, toys, and books that don’t segregate or categorize spaces, themes, activities, and roles for boys and girls.
Based on this advice, we’ve developed a series of ideas to put into practice in the classroom and educate children on values and not based on prejudices or stereotypes. Are you ready to start promoting gender equality?
Activities and games to work on gender equality
Science has made it clear that gender stereotypes are learned in early childhood.
According to the results obtained in a study published in Science Magazine, the following is the conclusion:
- Until the age of 5, children don’t differentiate between “very intelligent” boys and girls.
- From the age of 6 onwards, girls rate boys as “very smart” more than girls and tend to stay away from games and toys traditionally intended for the male gender.
But for this to stop being the norm, we need to retrace the path and foster equality, empathy, and understanding of different contexts and realities. So, take a pencil and paper and learn some keys to achieving this task.
1. Reinforce the idea that games and toys are genderless
Then, you’ll need to invite them to reflect on the act of choosing toys according to gender, when they can play with all of them equally. One way to make this proposal concrete is to have them review the catalog of a toy store and discuss their ideas and thoughts on the matter.
Finally, we can ask them if there are unisex games in that advertisement. If not, it’s worth suggesting that they invent some with cardboard, drawings, or whatever they can think of.
2. Revalue housework: It’s about helping or sharing responsibilities
In the classroom, we can recreate a room in a house and ask the boys and girls to share the cleaning tasks. When finished, dedicate a moment for reflection to determine if everyone has understood that both boys and girls are capable of doing the same household chores.
Apart from this, this activity allows children to understand the magnitude of household chores and the effort involved in keeping the family home in good condition. It’s important to go beyond the concept of “helping” and replace it with the concept of “sharing responsibilities” within the home. This contributes to a more equitable distribution of the daily burden of household work.
3. Encourage reading “stories for all”
Books are an excellent tool for learning about values. A story adapted for children can help them understand the problems of gender inequality and opens the door to an interesting debate: What should happen in an egalitarian society and how can we change the reality?
4. Propose mixed sports to promote equality
The sports field is one of the environments that best reflects stereotypes, as, traditionally, there are “masculine” and “feminine” disciplines.
Therefore, a fun idea to rethink this reality in the classroom is to propose a sports championship (of any discipline) with mixed teams.
5. Implement the skills cards
Write 10 everyday actions on the board, such as sweeping, cleaning, running, studying, walking, playing, laughing, and cooking, among others. Then ask the children to write on an “I can” card below a list of five things they’re able to do.
Next, ask the group who can sweep, laugh, or play and see how many children have written those actions on their cards. From this, open the space for reflection by having them see how many have chosen the same actions, regardless of gender. In the end, we can all do the same things.
Ideas for working on gender equality in the classroom: Educating to change the world
One of Nelson Mandela’s most transcendental phrases is the following:
“Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.”
The role of education is fundamental in order to make gender equality go from being a utopia to a possible, everyday reality.
If classrooms were to educate boys and girls in values, we would have a society free of prejudices and limiting stereotypes, in which everyone could develop their full potential as human beings. Without distinction of gender, race, religion, or thought. These aspects have to do with the personality and qualities of people, but don’t make them better or worse than anyone else.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Ayuda en Acción (s.f.). El juego no tiene género. Guía didáctica para educadores infantiles. Disponible en: https://ayudaenaccion.org/ong/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/El-juego-no-tiene-g%C3%A9nero.-0-3-anos-CAS.pdf
- Alemann, C. (2016) Lo que puedes hacer por la igualdad de género. Blog del BID. Primeros Pasos. Disponible en: https://blogs.iadb.org/desarrollo-infantil/es/igualdad-de-genero/
- Gobierno de Aragón (2019) Ni más ni menos. ¿Qué es la igualdad de género?. Disponible en; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7f_c5XhX4s
- Lin Bian, Leslie, S., Cimpian, A. (2017) Los estereotipos de género sobre la capacidad intelectual emergen temprano e influyen en los intereses de los niños. Revista Science. – Vol 355, Issue 6323 – pp.389-391. Disponible en:https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.aah6524
- Ministerio de Educación y Formación Profesional – Gobierno de España (s.f.) Guía de actividades para fomentar la igualdad de oportunidades entre niños y niñas. Disponible en: https://www.educacionyfp.gob.es/dam/jcr:b59c1fb7-30c6-4917-96be-f6a8d7eef619/guia-de-actividades-de-igualdad.pdf