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Having taught in the infant classroom gender stereotypes are definitely visible prior to children starting primary school. The stereotypical colour association with boys having blue or red school bags and the girls arriving with pink or purple on the first day of school is evident right from the onset. In the infant classroom we have always challenged these stereotypes in our school the infant team work collaboratively to create lessons to aspire pupils to be individuals who can make their own choices irrespective of gender. We have used Aistear to challenge stereotypes and allow children to take on roles in the role play area as mammy, daddy, builder, hairdresser, chef etc irrespective of their gender. If the roleplay area is set up as a building area, everyone plays with the tools etc.
Another activity I have carried out previously with classes I have taught is giving them a piece of paper to draw their image of a scientist. Stereo-typically almost all children will depict a man in their drawings. When questioned children have said it is because they have seen male “cartoon scientists”, which shows the impact of television and media on stereotypes. This lesson would then be followed up with children researching famous female scientists to discover there are so many talented female scientists as well as male.