Online Education

Deconstructing gender bias in school

If school is a reflection of society, it means that it also comes with its faults. Despite the good will and progress made in recent decades, equality between men and women has not yet been achieved. Some countries are even recording movements for the abolition of rights. Moreover, gender stereotypes are still strongly anchored in the population. Whether in roles, attitudes, etc., they all classify every element, business, etc. as feminine or masculine.

Even a binary school

Subsequently, this binary is also perceived in the school environment. This has a fundamental impact on the choice of study and the results of students in certain subjects. In addition, in March 2022, UNESCO reiterated its desire to combat gender bias in the educational environment. Teachers are the first to notice the impact of stereotypes on children. For example, if girls do slightly better than boys, they will generally go down the path of training in relationships, caring for others, appearance, etc. There are also more male than female characters in school textbooks, especially in history, giving the impression that there were practically only prominent men.

This differentiation at school affects society, which then continues to talk about male or female jobs. In part, it even has an impact on wage inequality for the same position. And if public policies have helped in this direction, there are still many sectors where the differences are striking.

Get out of stereotypes

What should the school do to eliminate these clichés? The teaching staff must already be trained to be able to approach this subject and be aware of its prejudices. After all, how often do teachers find themselves telling a child not to play with that “boy/girl toy”? In addition, toys are children’s first contact with social stereotypes. This results in the work of certain groups so that, for example, they are no longer clichés in Christmas gifts by refusing to offer a doll to Nicolas or a truck to Léa.

Comments about the attitude of a crying student or a very physical schoolgirl contribute to the perpetuation of myths. It therefore seems necessary to deconstruct these ideas through various educational activities. For the little ones, it can be through entertainment. Thus, ProEgal in France offers interactive games where children had to match games and occupations with genres. As I grew up, other approaches are interested. Whether it’s creating anti-prejudice posters or, as at this school in Saint-Laurent, rewriting fairy tales (often sexist) by changing gender roles.

On the Internet, you can find many capsules, manuals and online modules for teachers to deal with the issue of gender stereotypes. For example, many historical popularizers on YouTube have worked to appeal to female figures and feminist themes.

Cinematographer Manon Bril is a perfect example, but there are many others. For more ideas, this documentation from RIRE (The Information Network for Success in Education) provides good advice. All these activities must be followed back in the classroom with the teacher. They must go back to the elements raised and if they organize discussions and debates, they must ensure that the students understand so that they do not come out with more clichés. The task is certainly colossal, but getting an early start will have a big impact on tomorrow’s society.

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