Module 2 – Gender

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    • #193491
      Profile photo ofpbrennan_jy7f6fe0Pat Brennan
      Course Facilitator

      Reflect on how gender stereotypes might affect your students already at a young age. Describe a scenario you’ve seen in the classroom where gender stereotypes are present and post a reflection (150 words minimum) in this forum as a reply to this post, on how development education methodologies could help combat these stereotypes.

      Please also comment on at least one other participant’s post.

      Please Note:  Participants who use Word to write their assignments and then copy and paste these into the forum may find that additional extraneous formatting is brought across. To avoid this, either right click in the post window and choose ‘Paste as Plain Text’ or use the keyboard shortcut cmd+shift+v. Alternatively, you can first paste the content into Notepad (Or similar) and then copy it from here to the topic window.

    • #194055
      Siobhan Rooney
      Participant

      <p class=”MsoNormal”><span style=”font-size: 9.0pt; line-height: 107%; font-family: ‘Hind Madurai’; color: #163c42; background: white;”>I teach in an all-boys school and have previously taught in Junior and Senior Infant classrooms. It is very easy to see gender stereotypes affecting children from the moment they arrive in school, especially in a single sex school. We make a huge effort as a staff to try to challenge these stereotypes throughout the school. For example, in the junior classrooms we use playtime in Aistear to challenge the typical boy/girl stereotypes. It would be very easy in a boy’s school to have stereotypical gender toys, however we try and have a wide variety of toys and encourage the boys to play with toys more associated with girls. Modelling role play in the junior classrooms can really help to challenge gender stereotypes. In the senior end of the school, we use drama to continue to challenge gender stereotypes. Each year the school puts on a play and where the boys act out female roles and really excel and thrive doing so! We also have children in our school, who identify as female, and classmates are very accepting and supportive of this. I think when children progress to secondary school, this becomes more challenging. </span></p>

      • #194120

        Siobhán, your strategy to tackle gender stereotypes in your school through the medium of Aistear is a wonderful idea as the options and scenarios are endless. The kids would hopefully be so taken the play based activities that their male/female roles within the setting would be completely diminished. I see your point on it being difficult to distract both genders to toys they would be usually drawn to but in my opinion the planning and preparation that goes into Aistear would help to counteract this. Well done! A great action plan!

      • #198126
        eimear o callaghan
        Participant

        Hi Siobhan and Susan,I think it is a great idea to challenge the gender stereotypes  through Aistear with regard to what roles girls/boys ‘should’ have during these play based activities and also what toys they ‘should’ be playing with. Having a visual timetable with a clear rota so that everyone gets equal opportunity to experience all elements of the Aistear programme would really help to challenge gender stereotypes.

      • #194266
        Susan McMahon
        Participant

        Hi Siobhán, I used to also teach in an all boys school, where we also put on plays in 5th class, with both male and female characters. The boys did seem to love playing all roles, and it was great to be able to provide the opportunity for all forms of expression. I agree with your point that it may become more challenging in secondary school.

      • #199059
        Aoife Slacke
        Participant

        That is a great idea – think it could be done in co ed schools as well where children would audition for roles. Also love using Aistear to challenge gender stereotypes for children at a young age

      • #199485
        Louise Brosnan
        Participant

        Hi Susan, I also taught in a boys school and agree with your point, the boys were happy to play the female roles (my own son was very happy to play the princess in the Christmas play when he was 7! He is now 13 and doesn’t like to be reminded of that play so it is more of a challenge as children get older and become more aware of gender ‘roles’

      • #200774
        Frances Walsh
        Participant

        Hi Susan, I love your idea of assigning drama roles that  challenge gender stereotypes. More often than not I am guilty of choosing plays that I feel are ‘suitable’ for an all girls school setting. Going forward I plan to use plays that challenge female pupils to take on more masculine roles.

      • #194767
        Niamh Hanlon
        Participant

        Hi Siobhán,

        I have to say that I agree with the potential Aistear has to challenge these kind of gender stereotypes and it can only be of huge benefit to educate students about gender equality from a young age.

      • #197103
        Eimear Donohoe
        Participant

        Hi Siobhan. I agree it would be very easy to have gender type toys in a boys school. What I wonder is when the boys start in the boys school and they are given what are deemed as ‘girls’ toys what is their reaction? Are they given a mix of toys at home so its regular or don’t they question it. Well done on having a mix of toys for the boys. I also like the way in your Senior classes the roles can be given to anyone regardless of gender. That sends a strong message especially before they enter secondary school where it might become a lot trickier.

      • #197505
        Ann Gaughan
        Participant

        I teach 6th class, mixed school in a rural setting. I think it definitely depends on the class in front of you…but this years class ticked all the boxes for gender stereotypical behaviour ie. the boys played soccer at break times, girls never joined in as they claimed the boys were too rough (this particular group were very rough) girls were doing each others hair, played basketball or volleyball at breaks. All First World problems, I am sure of that. I spent a lot of time choosing the class novel and selected the book “Kick”, about a boy who dreamed of being a footballer in Indonesia and made football bootsin a factory to support his family. this book was a game changer for our class and opened up many discussions for us..the role of women in developing countries, we looked at the rights of the child and compared ours to Budi, the main character.
        IN our end of year school production, some of the “big” personalities dressed up as girls in our show, they had the confidence to do this…our show wwas Sleeping Beauty the Ugly Truth, which again highlighted thr importance of inner beauty, reagardless of sex, gender, social position.

      • #197766
        Peter Mc Mahon
        Participant

        Siobhán, I think that this is a great strategy that you have in your school. The use of Aistear to tackle gender stereotypes really helps to educate the children about gender from a very young age. I think this is particularly important when teaching in a same sex school.

      • #197812
        anna keyes
        Participant

        I feel it must be especially difficult to address gender stereotypes in a single sex school, as perhaps even separating the sexes at all could be seen as re-enforcing gender norms.. I found your post very interesting to read, so thank you for sharing!

      • #198131
        Niamh Mc Hugh
        Participant

        Siobhan I think the approach to using Aistear to address gender stereotyping in the classroom is an absolutely fantastic approach. It is a great way to challenge preconceptions in a fun, playful and non threating way. Something I imaging stays with the children for the rest of their lives. I also love the fact that the boys are encouraged to take on female roles within your productions, I think its another good way of addressing these serotypes and helping them explore female perspectives from a young age.

      • #198207
        Amy Craven
        Participant

        I teach in a DEIS 1 Boys School in Dublin and have noticed a lot of gender stereotyping in the classroom. Something that really stands out to me is that although many of these boys are being raised by their Mams and see how much the women in their life do. They still hold men in a much higher regard.  These mothers are doing everything to support their sons, through sports, education and general well-being, but it can go unnoticed and unappreciated.

        Our infant school is mixed and lots of the boys had female friends for 3 years and then once they move up to our school, very few of them remain friends with these girls. It can be hard to address gender stereotyping in the classroom in a single sex schools as they don’t have an opposing opinion of girls to say ‘yes, we also like football and minecraft!’.

        These lessons from the Development Education Handbook would be a great  place to start to begin to open conversations about gender and stereotyping. As mentioned in many of the videos, we need boys to also help accelerate gender equality so it’s vital we still teach these concepts.

        • This reply was modified 7 months, 1 week ago by Amy Craven.
      • #199282
        Kate McCarthy
        Participant

        I also teach in a DEIS school however mine is mixed. I find it very interesting that your students, as you said witness the hard work and capabilities of their mothers everyday yet they still view males as superior.  I recognize the difficulties you would face as a teacher in addressing gender stereotyping in a single sex school which I had never though about before.

      • #202016
        John Merrins
        Participant

        Hi,

        I found these points very interesting, especially the noticeable difference in attitudes between senior and junior classes.

      • #202384
        Maire Stokes
        Participant

        I teach in a boys senior school also Amy & have similar experiences in that the boys, my own included, have female friends when they are in the Junior school, but this peters out by 3rd class or before. I would say that in general gender stereotypes are lessening a little bit, very, very slowly over 29 years I have been teaching. I do think it helps that I enjoy lots of sporting activities & compete still. I think this is good for them to see.

      • #198917
        Julie Murphy
        Participant

        That is a great idea and I agree with you. Aistear is a great way to challenge gender stereotypes ensuring every child in participating in different activities. They may have to be the doctor or hairdresser or dentist or chef.

      • #199026
        Deirdre Seery
        Participant

        Hi,

        I  have to admit that I agree with Aistear’s potential to combat these kinds of gender stereotypes, and I believe that teaching students about gender equality at an early age can only be beneficial. We also try and introduce it in our junior classes in school.

      • #203115
        cristina bermudez
        Participant

        I like your idea of using drama as a medium to challenge gender stereotypes.

      • #203929
        Éadaoin Garrigan
        Participant

        Hi Siobhan, I really like your idea of using Aistear based play to combat gender stereotypes. I think this is a really good way of tackling a tricky subject in an age appropriate manner.

      • #205739
        Anna O’Gara
        Participant

        Hi Siobhan, I really like the idea of using Aistear to challenge gender stereotypes. I also do this with my infant class using Aistear to spark discussion around roles in different settings and encouraging pupils to take on various different roles.

      • #206357
        Jamie Owens
        Participant

        Hi Siobhan,

         

        I love this idea. I had infants last year and doing something like that during Aistear is something I would do in the future to tackle gender sterotypes.

      • #206370
        Gwyn Bhreathnach
        Participant

        I think that’s a lovely drama lesson  Siobhán and no doubt lots of fun as well. I agree with your point that it can be more difficult to manage gender roles/bias in secondary school but it is a great step forward by challenging these perceptions at a young age.

      • #207085
        Lorraine Cleary
        Participant

        Siobhán the approach you have described through Aistear sounds an excellent strategy for handling inequality in gender roles in Junior and Senior and in some schools Aistear is also taught in First class. I agree that when children reach secondary school attitudes may be hard to change. But hopefully if we were to thoroughly embrace the challenge as a school wide approach we could come up with good strategies that are age appropriate for 2nd through 6th. Using the lessons plans provided through this module will be a huge help, but getting all teachers on board in a school to tackle gender equality consistently and throughout each year, the way Aistear is engaged all the way through a year will be a big challenge. Finding activities that happen very regularly throughout the year re-enforcing the lessons taught from this module are needed for the older classes. But if successful, by the time they reach secondary school, their positive gender equality attitudes by both boys and girls, will hopefully be strongly embedded to carry them through.

    • #194125

      .I teach 6th class and every Friday we do a table quiz in which the weekly scores are totted up and the winning team receives a prize at the end of each half term. it is an activity which the kids really enjoy as it is fun, competitive but also relaxed in nature. I found it very interesting to see the pupils reaction when I explained to them at the start of year how the teams would be made and refreshed each half term. I told them I would be using a group maker online and that whatever names the online application had randomly allocated to that a specific group, that would be that, no changes. When the group maker had done it work it was clear to the class that the teams were  extremely random – but in one way: the number of boys or girls per team did not matter. Even though each team has 6 members, some teams were all boys, some were  all girls, some had 5 boys 1 girl, some were 50/50 . When this was discussed further the class concluded themselves that it didn’t matter what gender made up the team. The quiz was based on general knowledge and therefore it only mattered if a certain individual, male or female, was well up on a particular subject. I found this to be a revelation for the class and it clearly stuck with them in similar situations for the rest of the year.

      • #194187
        Linda Hennessy
        Participant

        This is so interesting and I love the way you spoke with them after. It’s very useful to use situations such as the table quiz to show how everyone is on an equal footing – for example, some girls might have extensive knowledge of soccer players, scores etc and some boys might have a huge bank of knowledge on Disney movies for example

      • #194253
        Marese Heavin
        Participant

        A very nice idea for the children, takes a bit of work to ensure the smooth running and updating of all but very beneficial. well done.

      • #194262
        Marese Heavin
        Participant

        Gender Stereotype certainly affects my pupils. Teaching in a small rural school with a ratio of boys to girls at 2:1, I feel the tendancy is to be traditional in regards chores in the home. By traditional I mean the job options have been passed down from genearation to generation. My pupils live in close proximity to their grandparents, who for the most part play a huge role in their lives and therefore the gender stereotype is difficult to move away from.

        An example of gender stereotyping in my classroom occured early in September. I had just moved to the school and I was finding my way with a multi grade class. The composter bin needed emptying and one of the girls asked if she could do it, immediately one of the boys shouted out “That’s a boy job!”

        I was completely shocked. Discussing this further, it became evident that a previous teacher had listed the classroom jobs as boy jobs and girl jobs……….Needless to say this was not the case in my room and we spent a great deal of time learning about equality and rights and doing what we can to keep our school clean, tidy and  doing jobs because we can do them and not because we are a boy or a girl.

        This is not something that can be achieved by individuals, it takes everyone working together to achieve real change. In our school we will try to make a school effort to achieve equality in our actions and in our behaviours.

      • #194328
        Darerca Egan
        Participant

        Hi Marese,

        Well done for addressing the issue of jobs being everyone’s responsibility!  .

        It has been great to see the success of the Irish Women’s football team.  I have seen external coaches use it very effectively in school to both motivate and silence!  I wonder how effective it might be in an all boys school?

         

      • #195070
        Daniel O Donoghue
        Participant

        Hi Darerca, It’s great that you have mentioned the upcoming World Cup for thr Irish Soccer Team. I teach in an all boys school and I intend to get all the boys in my class behind the girls in green! The interest and hype around it for the few weeks will be sure to break down a few more sterotypes in the boy’s heads.

      • #196122
        Hugh Rooney
        Participant

        Darerca,

        The Irish team are indeed an inspiration to young children and I think it is a great idea to encourage support for them in their world cup campaign. It goes a long way to break down barriers and encourage equality in sport.

      • #196594
        Laura Smyth
        Participant

        Daniel that is a great idea, I know in our own school & even in my family there is a big following for the male teams be it in football or GAA. It is a great idea to develop interest in the female teams also. It would definitely ensure that more people show interest in the female game if they got to know teams & players. It’s really important for children to see their role models reflecting themselves in some way-Can’t see it, Can’t be it!

      • #198212
        Amy Craven
        Participant

        Hi Darerca, I teach in an DEIS 1 Boys School and sometimes have found addressing gender stereotypes difficult. However, the upcoming World Cup caused great celebration and excitement in our school, which has been lovely to see. It’s a shame these matches are taken place over the summer, as there’s so much opportunity for discussion and promotion of Women in Sports. Sports stars like Kellie Harrington and Katie Taylor have been great for showing how sport is for all genders!

      • #194692
        Eoghan O’Neill
        TeachNet Moderator

        Hi Marese,

        Thank you for sharing your experience with us. I think many people on the course would have similar stories and experiences in relation to the ingrained gender stereotypes that children can often come to school with.

        As a teacher in al all boys’ school, I have definitely witnessed examples of this in the past, and the views around how certain activities shouldn’t be covered in the school. Gender stereotypes exist almost from birth, and often it is businesses that have been the worst culprits in propagating this. Looking back at old Lego kits, there is a clear attempt to appeal to a specific gender market.

      • #195569
        Niamh Brady
        Participant

        Hi Maresa,

        I would have been completely horrified by this too! It’s amazing to see the negative impact the previous teacher’s perception of job roles had on the students . Gender stereotypes can have a profound influence on students from a young age, limiting their potential and reinforcing gender inequalities.

        I was coming through Dublin Airport the other day and I loved the murals Skoda have on display showcasing women from Irish legends and mythology. I thought it was mnásome!

      • #195738
        Sam Briggs
        Participant

        This is very similar to the sort of thing I witnessed when teaching in a mixed school, Marese. The boys would volunteer for heavy lifting jobs, whereas girls would volunteer for cleaning jobs such as spraying down tables or washing the paint trays. Now that I teach in an all-boys school, they are usually just as happy to take on either of these kinds of jobs!

      • #197926
        Helen Walsh
        Participant

        I completely agree Marese,

        It really does take everyone working together to achieve real change; it cannot be achieved individually. I’m reminded of Emma Watson – if not me, who? if not now, when?

      • #204028
        Michelle Ryan
        Participant

        Hi Marese,

        I love how you addressed the gendered jobs in your classroom. I found the same issue in my classroom this year too! Sports equipment was most often collected and distributed by the boys, whereas the girls had the jobs of tidying the library books.

        It is so important to start small when it comes to gender stereotypes and work towards the bigger issues in time!

      • #196022

        This is an excellent idea for highlighting the importance of gender equality in a co-educational school. The child- led conversations led to a child centered approach to addressing the issue which is an excellent approach to take , especially with senior classes.

      • #197477
        Ann Gaughan
        Participant

        I also teach 6th class and this is a great idea, I will definitely use that to create teams in the future so thanks for the tip.

        Every class is different and this year I found a lot of the girls , with the exception of 2 or 3 NEVER participated in class, NEVER spoke to a visitor, NEVER offered to answer a q, I found it very strange initially because I found the group to be quite chatty in the yard/ on previous interactions. I had a lot of “big” personalities, who just so happened to be boys and on talking with parents at PTMs, it was obvious that the  girls had become nearly submissive over the years, sitting back to let the boys do all the answering, afraid to put themselves forward incase theyd be ridiculed. It was very, very strange indeed.I have never seen a class like it and Iam over 20 years teaching.  Our SET team got involved as I felt really strongly about it and wanted to prepare them(all students) for secondary school, so small groups were put in place to raise confidence, role play, promote skills and encourage participation…this kind’ve goes against what you’ve said intially  but I would do the same thing if it was the boys.  It did help and I hope the girls are more confident as a result, heading into secondary school.

      • #204529

        A great tip there Ann – to get SET team involved, i have encountered a similiar situation in one of our senior classes in our school. Great ideas there for me to take on board along with my colleagues.

      • #194247
        Eoghan O’Neill
        TeachNet Moderator

        Hi Cliodhna,

        Thanks for sharing this experience with us. Using an application that randomises groups and teams is an excellent way of promoting fairness and equality within the classroom. The discussions that followed regarding the gender breakdown in the teams is interesting, and certainly something that could be used as a discussion point in other contexts. Applying what they have learned and seen here in other areas would be a great example of a lived experience of challenging gender stereotyping.

      • #196488
        Sarah Muldowney
        Participant

        Hi Cliodhna!

        This is very interesting and I think the use of a quiz is an excellent and interactive way to get the children to think about these gender stereotypes and the fact that gender doesn’t have a role to play in these kinds of things! Well done, this is something I would consider doing in my class!

      • #197024
        Katie Doyle
        Participant

        I think this is a great way to open the conversation with children on how gender doesn’t matter and allow the children to take part in a fun group activity to reinforce this!

      • #198304
        Profile photo ofpbrennan_jy7f6fe0Pat Brennan
        Course Facilitator

        Hi Amy,

        You make a really good point (Though difficult to fathom) about the degree of gender stereotyping in DEIS schools among boys. As someone who spent more the 20 years working in a similarly disadvantaged school I can fully concur with your observations. Despite many boys growing up in single-parent homes with their mothers as you outline there is often little respect for the work they do to nurture and support them. It makes the job of challenging these engrained misconceptions all the harder for teachers. Key I believe is starting as early as possible as the sooner we can start to question such notions the better.

      • #201865
        Declan Hogan
        Participant

        Great work Cliodhna!

      • #202869
        Caroline Walsh
        Participant

        I think this is a great example of the children doing something fun like a quiz in various changing groups and I like how naturally the discussion about the gender in the groups developed. I like the idea of the group maker and explaining to the children how it works.

      • #205532
        Sarah Farrell
        Participant

        Using a fun activity that is on -going throughout the year is a great way to challenge gender stereotypes. I think it was so important to talk to the children after the groups were made to open the the discussion of gender.

         

    • #194181
      Linda Hennessy
      Participant

      This module was very thought provoking and has unearthed ideals that we hold as teachers without even knowing it. The most basic one that we are at fault with is getting the boys to do all the ‘strong work’ such as carrying and lifting on assembly days, grandparents days etc. we have made a conscious effort at removing this stigma. Over the last three years, I have introduced knitting for all in the classroom. I teach in a mixed school and the boys showed a lot of eye rolling at the start! However, some footage of the Olympic diver Tom Daley knitting at the side of the pool removed the stigma of it being ‘just for girls’ and we were off. We are lucky that our school teams are mostly mixed so the issue of gender based teams doesn’t arise here. We have encountered a lot of subject matter based on the human rights of girls throughout the ages this year and the girls in the class have really identified with how privileged they might be. The boys, on the other hand, were visibly shocked at some of the rights women have been denied through the ages. I would like to explore these ideas further next year using real life examples from our current world and debate on how we might contribute to improving the lives of others.

      • #194837
        Ailbhe Harding
        Participant

        Hi Linda,

        Knitting is a fabulous idea! I was taught to knit as a child in school and have often wondered how my teachers found the time (and patience!) to teach it to such a large class. It’s a wonderful skill however, and I love the idea of introducing it to boys. Not only does it challenge traditional gender stereotypes, but you’ve also introduced them to positive role models such as Tom Daley and have provided them with a new skill/interest that they may otherwise have not had the opportunity to explore.

      • #194980
        Aoife Coen
        Participant

        We do knitting in our school too and the boys now love it as much as the girls. I wasn’t aware of the footage of Tom Daley knitting at the side of the pool but I will use this in the future! Thank you.

      • #196557
        Sam Wright
        Participant

        Hi Linda, I remember knitting myself in school when I was in 5th class and found it an extremely positive experience. I even remember as a child noticing the different characters around the room who once were loud and uncooperative becoming chilled and immersed in the activity. I love the idea of consolidating with the video of Tom Daley too!

      • #200929
        Kate Liston
        Participant

        Knitting for everyone would be a fabulous idea. When I was in school the priest would come and take all the boys to play football in the local park and the girls stayed behind to learn to knit! That was in the late 1980’s! How far we have come since then! There are fabulous male and female knitters on social media to inspire everyone!

      • #197351
        Naomi Curran
        Participant

        Hello Linda,

        This year we introduced knitting to the boys and girls in my class also. I personally think it is a lovely skill to have as I don’t know how to do it myself but the grandparents from the area came in every Friday to teach all my students .It was such a lovely community effort by all.  At the start the boys were not too impressed but by the end of it I was so impressed with what they produced. Some of them even brought the knitting to do at home in the evening.

    • #194193
      Sean Finlay
      Participant

      As an educator who has just completed their first year teaching, I was surprised in both positive and negative ways about the role of gender stereotypes that existed in a senior class in a large, mixed, urban school. Children appear comfortable playing and talking with boys and girls but mixed-gender friendship groups were not the norm but also not uncommon. Both boys and girls played the same games on the yard and there was never any mention of one gender being better than the other at these games. However, there were stereotypes when it came to interests and hobbies as it was frowned upon when girls were interested in online gaming and related activities as it was perceived as almost abnormal and not suitable.

      I think development education methodologies could certainly have a role in tackling these stereotypes as children could be made aware that ability and interests are not related to gender and what hobbies a child has is unique and individual to themselves.

      • #194249
        Siobhan Rooney
        Participant

        I think that is amazing that you introduced knitting to your class. Such a fabulous skill to learn. Love the way you used the video of Tom Daley knitting by the pool to challenge very engrained stereotypes in schools and society in general.

      • #194530
        Mikey Flanagan
        Participant

        Very interesting to hear this Sean, if you begin this at a young age there is eventually a shift in thinking. I value how you feel the development methodologies may tackle these rolls, I feel social media has a big say in this as well and could eventually help the shift.

    • #194327
      Darerca Egan
      Participant

      I work in an Educate Together School where gender equality forms a key component of our ethos.  Being co-educational and child-centred the focus is on celebrating the child irrespective of their gender.  However, because of a push to encourage girls into STEM in the last few years, I have consciously and actively invested in toys for my class which promote these skills – Jumbo Jenga, Giant Polydrons and Lego.  They have proven a huge success and are the most played with items in the cupboards.  However, I still firmly believe that children should be able to play or dress in a manner of their choice – acknowledging that not everyone enjoys Lego!

      In literacy, we have used a selection of dramatic techniques, including hot-seating to investigate character feelings in class novels and freeze-frame to capture a moment in time.  The children happily adopt the personas without thought to whether the character is male or female.  I have to add that children in Senior Classes may feel more self-conscience and less enthusiastic to participate.

       

      • #194656
        Conor Beirne
        Participant

        Thanks Darerca. I like the idea of investing in all types of toys for your class. I have noticed a lack of STEM toys in girls schools and often it can be things like these which promote gender stereotypes. Providing them with a range of toys and giving them choice is a great way of combating gender stereotypes.

      • #194694
        Eoghan O’Neill
        TeachNet Moderator

        Hi Darerca,

        Thanks for sharing some of the strategies you are incorporating in your class to address these stereotypes. A number of initiatives (including EDI) are now working hard to ensure more girls become involved in STEM.

        You have mentioned literacy and drama as ways in which we can address this. I find that picture books can be a great way to address sensitive issues in a way that removes the child themselves from a particular situation. The book ‘Amazing Grace’ by Mary Hoffman is an excellent book for exploring both racial and gender discrimination.

      • #197045
        Hugh Rooney
        Participant

        I agree Conor, it is so important that we challenge the stereotype that Lego is only for boys. Lego is a fantastic resource to use in schools to promote STEM education for both boys and girls.

      • #200893
        Keelan Conway
        Participant

        Hi Darerca,

        I like the idea of introducing dramatic techniques such as hot seating in literacy. As an NQT, I will be curious to try techniques like this to gauge the children’s preconceptions of gender stereotypes.

        It is interesting that children in senior classes are less inclined to participate in said activities. This does, however, provide us as educators some excellent opportunities to incorporate the new knowledge we have learned in this module into our teaching.

    • #194351
      Susan McMahon
      Participant

      This was a really interesting module. I’ve noticed gender stereotypes, from Junior Infants through to Sixth Class. In the infants classroom, I’ve overheard girls telling boys that they cannot play with the dolls in the dolls house, that only girls should play there. In Sixth Class I’ve heard boys scoff at the notion of a girl joining them playing football at break time. This module has inspired me with a few different ways I could approach combatting these stereotypes. I really liked the video explaining the differences between sex and gender (CBC Kids News). I wonder what class level that would be most suitable for? I think it is very informative and would lead to some interesting discussions. I also think using Development Education’s publication 10 Myths About Women’s Rights as part of persuasive writing in English would be a great stepping stool for further debate and discussion.

      • #204849
        Deirdre Ryan
        Participant

        Hi Susan,

        I love the idea of us the 10 Myths About Women’s Rights publication as part of persuasive writing in the senior classes.

    • #194521
      Mikey Flanagan
      Participant

      Gender stereotypes can significantly impact students, even at a young age, within the classroom. One scenario I’ve observed is during art activities, where boys are often encouraged to draw and paint subjects associated with action, sports, or vehicles, while girls tend to lean towards drawing flowers, animals, or princesses. These patterns reflect societal expectations and preconceived notions about what is considered appropriate or “normal” for each gender.

      The presence of such gender stereotypes limits the creative expression and potential of students. It perpetuates the idea that certain interests or artistic styles are exclusive to specific genders, restricting individuality and self-discovery. As educators, it is crucial to challenge these stereotypes by promoting a diverse and inclusive approach to art. By offering a wide range of subject matters and encouraging students to explore their unique interests, we can empower them to break free from gender expectations and express themselves authentically through their artwork. Creating an environment where students feel safe to experiment, express, and appreciate various forms of artistic expression, regardless of gender, is essential. By dismantling these stereotypes, we can nurture creativity, foster self-confidence, and cultivate a classroom that celebrates the uniqueness and individuality of every student.

      • #194669
        Padraic Waldron
        Participant

        I completely agree. Gender stereotypes in art activities can limit students’ creative expression and hinder their potential. It is important for us to challenge these stereotypes by promoting inclusivity and encouraging students to explore diverse artistic interests. By creating a safe and supportive environment, we can empower students to break free from gender expectations and embrace their authentic artistic selves, fostering creativity and self-confidence in the classroom.

    • #194653
      Conor Beirne
      Participant

      Gender stereotypes can have a huge impact on students at a young age. It can influence the thoughts and in turn ambitions of young children. An example of gender stereotyping I have seen in 4th class was in one of the first PE lessons of the year. A boy asked me during a game, “do girls get double points for a score”. I questioned this notion and it led to a number of boys expressing their views that boys were naturally better at sport. After some questioning, I found that giving girls extra points for scores was a common theme in summer camps and other PE lessons. This could easily impact girls’ confidence and ambitions in sport. Open discussions are one way to combat gender stereotypes. When we engage students in conversations about gender roles and stereotypes, we empower them to recognize that societal expectations should not restrict their potential. Broadening their horizons, we can introduce diverse role models and narratives that defy traditional gender norms.

       

       

      • #194663
        Robert Cheevers
        Participant

        I’ve observed gender stereotypes on numerous occasions in class. Ranging from choice of colours in infant classes to the type of clothing children wear on a non-uniform day. Boys wearing loose clothing and trousers while girls dress as princesses. One such scenario in the classroom when using scratch in computer lessons with junior classes, was girls choosing flowers and princesses in their programming creations while the boys use knights or football in their animations. Similar to senior classes whilst using the canva facility. Boys tend to choose sporting idols or predators in creating posters, presentations, and videos. The girls chose pop stars and cute pets. When asked for feedback children don’t give appropriate reasons for selecting specific objects or items within the facilities. Pardon the pun but it seems they’re programmed to choose things without questioning why.
        Development education could challenge these stereotypes through discussion and using specific language to break down these stereotypes. Our DEIS school would welcome guests to speak to the children for development education purposes and for greater exposure to individuals they may encounter even though they may be in their communities. It’s an opportunity for them to ask questions. With events such as international day children observe different cultures within their communities can only break down the stereotypes.

      • #194672
        Robert Cheevers
        Participant

        I would agree with Conor in his statement that gender stereotypes at a young age can influence children’s decisions and ambitions when they get older. When I was in 6th class many years ago the boys would take the infant boys and teach them maths while the 6th class girls would teach knitting to the infant girls. Education has broken down many of these stereotypes  but they still exist today. Boys choose STEM subjects more than girls and while the girls are more likely to do Arts. As a primary school teacher, it is traditionally a female job. We are moving in the right direction but we have some way to go.

      • #195145
        Eimear Boyce
        Participant

        A very eye-opening point Conor that I possibly hadn’t considered the impact of until reading your post. The double points for girls isn’t a system I have implemented myself but I have definitely heard of it being used. I have also heard of the rules that in football whereby boys are only allowed one solo before they have to pass whereby girls weren’t limited to a certain amount of hops and solos.

        Definitely something to be more mindful of going forward

      • #196504
        Noreen Keane
        Participant

        I had the same experience as you, Robert, when I was in primary school myself. I attended a 2 teacher school, where one teacher supervised the boys playing board games and doing arts &crafts, while the girls did knitting and sewing with the other teacher! We felt degraded and humiliated – something thankfully I don’t witness much of these days in the classroom.

    • #194665
      Padraic Waldron
      Participant

      In my 6th class, I observed a scenario where during a career discussion, girls expressed their ambitions to pursue traditionally male-dominated careers, such as engineering or computer science, but faced remarks like “Those are boys’ jobs.” On the other hand, boys were discouraged from considering careers like teaching because they were labeled as “girls’ jobs.”

      This scenario shows the harmful impact of gender stereotypes on students’ career aspirations. When children are limited by societal expectations and told that certain professions are only suitable for one gender, it hinders their potential and highlights gender inequality. Open discussions about career stereotypes and real-life examples of people going against these stereotypes will help shift this notion that jobs can be categorized into ‘male’ and ‘female’

      • #195997
        Michael Conway
        Participant

        I agree that this is prevalent. I wish that people would focus more on what you wish to do? what you are good at/passionate about? what you feel would be a rewarding career for you? rather than whether it is a male/female role. We can always change our minds in the future but a mindset can be difficult to change if it is ingrained in your psyche. Society has transformed so much and we have made great strides- it is a pity that an individual would sacrifice a rewarding career based on what other people may think.

        It is something that really needs to be addressed in society as a whole- this does not solely come from peers but is an attitude that is prevalent in society. Perception and perspectives need to change- many careers that will be common in the future have not even been realised. This may be an opportunity to quell this stereotype notion in the future.

    • #194760
      Niamh Hanlon
      Participant

      My school recently participated in an Erasmus project in STEM in which one topic explored was women in STEAM. As part of this we gathered all the girls from each 6th class together and looked at some of the influential women that have contributed to areas in STEM. We had a pretty frank discussion gathering thoughts and opinions on why girls tend to opt out of STEM. They said things like “they might get made fun of for doing those subjects”, “people think men can do a better job” or “girls don’t get as many chances”. When we questioned them further it was shocking to find that there are so many factors contributing to why they had this mindset. The main one being that the majority of the girls from my school will go on to an all girls secondary school and the boys to an all boys school. The choice subjects on offer to the girls were limited to home-ec, art and music while the boys had much broader choices including applied technology, wood technology and graphics. A clear indicator that our education system has a way to go in providing equality of opportunity.

    • #194838
      Ailbhe Harding
      Participant

      I teach in an Educate Together school so, similar to other course participants, gender equality forms a core part of our ethos and is a topic that is both formally and informally reinforced throughout the school on a regular basis. There is no doubt, however, that instances of inequality still manage to creep through into school life, particularly among the older classes. There is rarely any malice behind the behaviour – it’s more a case of societal and traditional influences which the children perceive to be the norm.

      One area where I often see this is in PE, particularly when teaching the Dance strand. The boys in the class often shy away from participating, or are too self conscious to do so, because they perceive it to be too girly. I counteract this by showing them the athletic side of dance through YouTube videos of male dancers (e.g. Gene Kelly, Jordan Banjo/Diversity, break dancers, etc.) which emphasise dance as a sport which requires serious strength. We would also explore traditional dances from other countries (particularly as there are dozens of nationalities represented in my school) and explore the history of the dances, which adds a greater sense of meaning and allows the children to respect the roots of it more.

      I look forward to introducing some of the resources encountered in this module in my class in September. The “From Where I Stand” resources look excellent and is certainly something that I will be passing on to my colleagues also.

       

      • #199469
        Deirdre O’Brien
        Participant

        Great idea to show them ‘Diversity’ videos as an example of dance and athleticism. I would have to agree with you that it can be hard to get boys to engage meaningfully with the dance strand for the reasons you have outlined but that is a great idea to counteract it.

    • #194974
      Aoife Coen
      Participant

      Gender stereotypes exist from such a young age and as educators we must actively try to counteract this. as explained in content, it goes with toys, clothes, expectations. I know a few years ago I had a debate with a male friend of mine who refused to allowed his son to play with a baby doll in our house whilst on a visit. This really shocked me that that attitude still existed amongst my generation, someone from an educated working class background.

      In school I like to use baking quite a bit as a treat/reward. This has really helped me target gender stereotypes as all children love to bake and  don’t want to be excluded. I use it as a way to teach a life skill and give equal opportunities to all children. I think it is so important that we educate the children not to have expectations re gender. It all comes down to value and respect which should be echoed through our school ethos.

      I though the Human Rights from the UN  resource very good and I will be using this with my children going forward.

      • #195195
        Eoghan O’Neill
        TeachNet Moderator

        Hi Aoife,

        Thanks for the post and for sharing your first-hand experiences of gender stereotyping. I think it’s fair to say that it’s often ingrained before a child starts school. We recently had a junior infant induction day where a similar scenario developed.

        I love the baking idea that you have shared. It’s fair to say that it’s something that all children can enjoy (and they will certainly enjoy the finished product), and goes some way towards tackling stereotypes around it. There are plenty of other small acts and activities we could do to promote this. I also think sharing the reason ‘why’ we are doing this with parents is so important, in the hope that the message extends beyond the school walls.

      • #200439
        Sinead Moore
        Participant

        Hi Aoife, thanks for sharing your experience. I have has similar experiences in infants, you’re right often these gender stereotypes can be instilled in a child before they begin school. Love the idea you had of baking, its a subtle way of breaking down those stereotypes and the children love to get involved while learning the life skill of baking.

    • #195067
      Daniel O Donoghue
      Participant

      2. Gender stereotypes can have a profound impact on students, even in 5th class. These stereotypes can limit students’ opportunities and reinforce harmful beliefs about gender roles. For example, girls may be discouraged from pursuing careers in science or male-dominated apprenticeships, while boys may be discouraged from expressing their emotions or pursuing creative interests.

       

      In a classroom scenario, I have seen gender stereotypes present when boys are encouraged to be competitive and aggressive, while girls are encouraged to be nurturing and passive. For example, during a group project, boys may be more likely to take charge and dominate the conversation, while girls may be more likely to defer to their male peers. This can reinforce harmful beliefs about gender roles and limit students’ opportunities for growth and development.

       

      Development education methodologies can help combat these stereotypes by promoting critical thinking, empathy, and respect for diversity. For example, by incorporating diverse perspectives into the curriculum, we can help students understand the complexity of gender roles and challenge harmful stereotypes. Additionally, by encouraging students to work collaboratively and express their ideas freely, we can help break down gender barriers and promote equality in the classroom. By creating a safe and inclusive learning environment, we can help students develop a sense of empathy and responsibility for the world around them.

       

    • #195136
      Eimear Boyce
      Participant

      I have witnessed gender stereotyping in a classroom I briefly subbed in.  I saw a child interested in what can often be considered ‘girly’ stationery- pencil cases, lunch boxes, bags etc.. While in younger classes it wasn’t an issue for him, he soon became self-conscious and asked his parents could he have more neutral colours for school, and he’d keep his favourite more ‘girly’ stationery for home use. I questioned previous staff/ parents on this particular scenario wondering had something been said by children or others and was assured there was no single incident that led to this change. However, It has to be questioned what gender stereotyping is being allowed and reinforced to happen at a school and classroom level, maybe sometimes without our knowledge.

       

      Methodologies that I would hope to implement into my future classroom:

      Awareness: age- appropriate discussion, encourage critical thinking and examine societal expectations with children.

      Diverse role-models: Introduce potential role-models who defy gender stereotypes whereby their interests and abilities are not limited by gender.

      Provide Choice: offer options that cater to various preferences without reinforcing stereotypes.

      Inclusive literacy: This has been highlighted more and more on social media, the importance of having a diverse library of books. I think we can stretch this to include books that challenge stereotypes and promote inclusivity.

       

      • #195705
        Saoirse Rooney
        Participant

        Eimear,

        I love your idea of inclusive literacy. It is very importance to challenge gender norms and I love the idea of doing this through story or alternative fairy tales.

      • #195706
        Saoirse Rooney
        Participant

        Eimear,

        I love your idea of inclusive literacy. It is very importance to challenge gender norms and I love the idea of doing this through story or alternative fairy tales.

    • #195557
      Niamh Brady
      Participant

      Gender stereotypes can have a significant impact on students from a young age. These stereotypes, influenced by societal norms and expectations, can limit a child’s potential, reinforce gender inequalities, and restrict their choices and opportunities. It is essential to recognise and address these stereotypes to foster an inclusive and empowering learning environment. Development education methodologies can play a crucial role in combating gender stereotypes and promoting gender equality.

      I remember when I was teaching a class of senior infants a few years ago and we were discussing different professions, some of the children had very definite opinions on the gender allowed for some of the job roles mentioned, which I couldn’t believe.

      One way Development Education methodologies can challenge this is to provide students with diverse and inclusive learning materials and resources. This includes textbooks, literature, and other educational materials that challenge gender stereotypes and present diverse role models. By exposing students to stories and examples that defy traditional gender roles, they can develop a broader perspective and realise that there are no fixed limits or expectations based on gender.

      • #195575
        Eoghan O’Neill
        TeachNet Moderator

        Hi Niamh,

        I think you’ve hit the nail on the head when you mention the need to draw children’s attention to resources and stories that ‘defy traditional gender roles’. Exploring the theme through the lens of somebody else’s story is a very effective way of introducing the thinking, before moving on to challenging existing thoughts. The book ‘Amazing Grace’ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmIfdJRsSGQ) does a great job of this in terms of the reaction of children to a girl’s desire to play the role of Peter Pan in a school play.

    • #195703
      Saoirse Rooney
      Participant

       

      I work in a single sex school. Gender plays a very big part in the school and all the interactions between students and adults. It is imperative in this day that we teach the boys in my school about the concept of gender. Gender plays a huge role in the classroom and particular in interactions between boys in the yard. Some boys need to be taught that it is ok to express their emotions. Often boys are taught not to cry and they need to know that it for them to be upset and articulate it.

      <span style=”white-space: normal;”> The lessons plans mentioned in this module fit in well with the Stay Safe Programme and some of the topics mentioned in RSE. I particularly liked the idea of discussing different jobs that are gender based. Open discussions break down conceptions.</span>

      <span style=”white-space: normal;”> It is imperative that we teach boys about gender equality in Ireland and abroad. We have a responsibility as educators to promote the holistic education of the boys we teach. It is important that they recognise that there is a particular imbalance for girls in certain countries.  </span>

      Emma  Watson’s You Tube clip is excellent.

       

      • #196006
        Eoghan O’Neill
        TeachNet Moderator

        Hi Saoirse,

        Thanks for your post. As someone who also works in an all boys’ school, I share many of the experiences you have outlined in this post. Gender equality is something that we must teach – it’s extremely important in single sex schools as there are less ‘lived experiences’ of gender discrimination in the school setting. Emma Watson’s speech (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkjW9PZBRfk) certainly provides powerful talking points and is one that could easily be used to begin a lesson/unit of work in this area.

      • #198779
        Teresa Gillespie
        Participant

        Hi Saoirse,

        I too was very impressed with Emma Watson’s presentation to the UN at the HeForShe 2014 campaign . Two phrases that I recall are: If not me, who? & If not now, when? Plenty of food for thought.

    • #195730
      Triona Mullally
      Participant

      This was another really interesting an insightful module. This module has deepened my understanding and awareness of gender and its impact in the classroom. We have all heard the statements “boys are better at sport than girls” or “boys don’t cry”. Stereotypes underpin prejudice and discrimination and place constraints on people’s lives. Society works to confine behaviour within rigid lines. From an early age children are taught which colours, toys, games and books are for boys and which for girls. Choices about what they will play with or wear are made for younger children and, by the time they come to make their own, they have already learnt what is expected of them and will often behave accordingly. Many children’s books and TV programmes still portray a world in which boys are Postman Pat and girls Princesses.
      Research has demonstrated how classroom discussions about gender constructions and using literature as a vehicle for deconstructing stereotypes can have a significant impact on educational engagement and learning.

      Using Aistear is also an invaluable activity, which allows children to play different roles and challenge traditional stereotypes.

    • #195735
      Sam Briggs
      Participant

      In a classroom setting, gender stereotypes can significantly impact students from a very young age. These stereotypes are social constructs that dictate how individuals should behave based on their assigned gender roles. They can limit a child’s potential, perpetuate inequality, and reinforce harmful biases. One scenario that I have observed in the classroom where gender stereotypes were present is during group activities. Often, boys are expected to take on leadership roles, while girls are encouraged to be passive and nurturing. This can lead to a lack of confidence and assertiveness among girls, while boys may struggle with empathy and communication skills.

      To combat these stereotypes, development education methodologies can play a crucial role. Firstly, educators can incorporate inclusive and diverse materials into their curriculum that challenge traditional gender roles. This can include books, videos, and other resources that feature diverse role models and showcase a range of skills and interests irrespective of gender.

      Secondly, educators can create a supportive and inclusive classroom environment that encourages open dialogue and critical thinking. By fostering discussions about gender stereotypes and their impact, students can develop a deeper understanding of these issues and challenge their own biases.
      Furthermore, development education methodologies can include activities that promote empathy, cooperation, and teamwork, breaking down stereotypes and encouraging collaboration among all students. For instance, mixed-gender group projects can help students appreciate each other’s strengths, challenge stereotypes, and foster mutual respect.

      Overall, development education methodologies that emphasise inclusivity, diversity, and critical thinking can play a crucial role in combating gender stereotypes in the classroom. By empowering students to challenge traditional gender roles and encouraging them to embrace their individuality, we can create a more equitable and inclusive learning environment for all students.

      • #195774
        Patrick Curran
        Participant

        I agree with you in regards to using inclusive classroom materials, Sam. We’ve been working towards building up a bank of more diverse library books in my school over the last number of years – it’s nice for the children to see different family structures, belief systems and lifestyles represented in day to day school life.

      • #196794
        Imelda Whelan
        Participant

        This is a really interesting post that raises an element of gender stereotyping that we do not readily consider. We tend to see gender stereotyping as being more biased towards females and not recognise the effect that it can have on males in terms of not showing emotions and always being strong.

    • #195796
      Patrick Curran
      Participant

      I have taught the junior classes for a number of years and have found that, even in infants, the children already begin to adhere to a number of gender stereotypes. While the concepts are of course all very innocent, it is interesting to observe the way that the advertising of toys, TV shows etc all greatly influence the way that they think.  As teachers, we have a great opportunity to challenge these stereotypes and encourage the children to look at the world in a more inclusive, equal way.

      I find Aistear to be a really great way of both observing and breaking down stereotypes. Because of its thematic nature, children are often more willing to let go of their preconceived ideas of boys toys vs girls toys, and it is lovely to see them branch out into activities that they may not usually go for during free play. Aistear also provides effective opportunities for discussions about gender stereotypes, particularly when looking at job roles and professions… e.g. explaining that nurses can also be male and engineers can also be female.

      Development Education enables us to view the world from a more inclusive standpoint and encourages us to examine our behaviours in the context of fairness and equality. I am looking forward to exploring the resources from this course in more detail and using them to influence my teaching going forward.

       

    • #195994
      Michael Conway
      Participant

      Reflect on how gender stereotypes might affect your students already at a young age. Describe a scenario you’ve seen in the classroom where gender stereotypes are present and post a reflection (150 words minimum) in this forum as a reply to this post, on how development education methodologies could help combat these stereotypes.

      In the infant classroom I still notice that dolls especially baby dolls are used in play more frequently by girls than boys. It is a subtle thing (especially if children do not have them at home) as girls tend to gravitate towards the dolls in role play and nurture them rather than boys. It is really interesting to note that when I introduced a teddy into the role play for ‘Doctors Surgery’ alongside a doll, the boys were predominantly playing with the teddy and nurturing the teddy. It may be something that is subconscious from a very young age that there are distinctions between toys we play with based on gender.

      Exposure to different toys and allowing that space for children to be inquisitive and explore different toys is something which I try to encourage. I always ensure that there is a variety of play material for children in the classroom and focus on the play rather than the choice of toy. Children are very creative and if given opportunities and exposure to different material, they will use them in unique and interesting ways. It is prevalent that even in catalogues toys are divided into girl and boy sections which does impact on choice and preference.

    • #196020

      Gender stereotypes can have a profound impact on students, even at a young age. These stereotypes can limit students’ potential and prevent them from pursuing their interests and passions. For example, boys may feel pressure to conform to masculine stereotypes and avoid activities that are perceived as more feminine, while girls may feel discouraged from pursuing careers in fields that are traditionally male-dominated.

       

      One scenario I’ve observed in the classroom where gender stereotypes are present is during lunch time free play when boys tend to play more physically active games, such as soccer or basketball, while girls tend to play more passive games, such as jump rope or hopscotch. This reinforces the idea that boys are naturally more athletic and competitive, while girls are not.

       

      As a teacher, it’s important to be aware of these stereotypes and to work to counteract them. This can be done by providing students with a variety of activities and opportunities that challenge gender norms, such as encouraging girls to participate in sports or boys to explore their creative side. It’s also important to model gender equality in the classroom by treating all students fairly and respectfully, regardless of their gender. By doing so, we can help our students to develop a more inclusive and equitable view of the world.

    • #196038
      Eoghan O’Neill
      TeachNet Moderator

      Hi Rachel,

      The gender stereotypes you have listed are probably common in many co-ed playgrounds. It’s likely that the move away from more physically active games happens in the middle and senior end of the school for girls. We really need to work to move away from situations where children are not pursuing their interests because they feel it is pigeon-holed as a ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ activity.

      There has been so much attention drawn to gender equality in recent times, but we are still allowing stereotypes to thrive in so many ways. It is only since 2021 that Lego (and many other toy companies) have stopped appealing to specific genders. This article has an interesting take on it and participants may wish to have a look at it: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2021/oct/11/lego-to-remove-gender-bias-after-survey-shows-impact-on-children-stereotypes

    • #196126
      Hugh Rooney
      Participant

      I teach in a mixed rural school and when I first joined the staff the school had a boys football team where they competed with other local schools. Due to declining number of boys in the school, the team then became a mixed football team. Initially the boys, particularly the older classes did not welcome the girls as it was perceived girls were not good at soccer and should have their own team. However, some of the girls are fantastic and could easily beat any of the boys!
      Once the team was formed, the boys changed their attitude towards playing and now are much more inclusive. I think the concept of all girls/ all boys teams are very old fashioned and biased and do not foster inclusivity. I think sport stars such as Katie Taylor are doing fantastic work to break down barriers and mis conceived notions that girls are not as competitive or talented as boys at sport.

      • #196130
        Eoghan O’Neill
        TeachNet Moderator

        Hi Hugh,

        Thanks for your post and highlighting this. At younger ages, mixed sports teams are certainly the way to go. It is great that both genders had the chance to see just how capable the other is, when playing on the same team.

        As someone who attended a mixed rural school as a child, this was always the case. However, in recent times the school competitions have reverted back to all boys’ and all girls’. Many rural schools are now amalgamating to enter teams in these competitions. It begs the question as to the level of progress being made in some cases…

    • #196486
      Sarah Muldowney
      Participant

      I teach in a DEIS 1 school in the subarbs of Dublin. Gender stereotypes are very prevalent in the classrooom in both the junior and senior classes. I have seen when teaching infants that toys are stereotyped as biys or girls toys, or during AISTEAR when a girl in the group has to be the nurse. When I asked why, I was told because girls are nurses and boys are doctors. In the senior classes, I have seen gender stereotypes again come up regarding professions, where girls will be teachers and nurses and boys with be footballers and business men. I have also seen gender stereotypes regarding physical appearance. Having a girl in the class with shorter hair and seeing others refer to her as a boy, simply because of a haircut.

      Development education can help to combat these stereotypes and one methodology that I think is easy to include in your teaching would be to include diverse and inclusive materials in lessons. For example, through stories and the use of images shown to portray a topic.

      • #196593
        Eoghan O’Neill
        TeachNet Moderator

        Hi Sarah,

        The examples you have provided will resonate with many on this course. It’s some thing we are constantly grappling with, and society continues to push these stereotypes in a number of ways. Sometimes it can be a good idea to draw attention to some examples of males in female dominated fields / females in male dominated fields. The Irish Women’s Soccer Team / male teachers / female mechanics, etc. Television programmes can often form the basis for finding some of the above. Indeed, the use of certain picture books can be another good way of exploring this topic in a more impersonal way.

      • #196616
        Aisling Corbett
        Participant

        Hi Sarah,

        Thanks for sharing. I work in a DEIS Band 1 school in Limerick City and find it very interesting how similar our classroom environments are. The students in my own school have the very same beliefs and it is something I am constantly debating with them, in a beneficial manner of course!! Love the idea of using picture books, this is definitely something that will work with the younger classes which I will be able to pass onto my colleagues! If anyone has any book suggestions, would love to hear them! Aisling.

    • #196553
      Sam Wright
      Participant

      Gender stereotypes can have a significant impact on students from a young age, shaping their beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours. These stereotypes limit the potential and opportunities of both boys and girls, reinforcing societal expectations and norms. In a classroom setting, I have witnessed instances where gender stereotypes are present. For example, during active lessons, some students assumed that the boys should handle the equipment while the girls should take notes, perpetuating the idea that boys are more suited for practical tasks and girls for academic ones.

       

      Development education methodologies can play a crucial role in combatting these stereotypes. By incorporating a gender-sensitive approach, educators can create a safe and inclusive environment where all students feel valued and empowered. Strategies such as inclusive language, diverse representation in learning materials, and promoting critical thinking can challenge gender stereotypes. Collaborative projects that encourage boys and girls to work together, fostering equal participation and leadership opportunities, can also be effective. Furthermore, guest speakers and discussions on gender equality, stereotypes, and the importance of diversity can raise awareness and promote empathy. By fostering a culture of respect, equality, and inclusivity, we can create an educational environment that empowers students to defy stereotypes, embrace their individual talents and interests, and pursue their aspirations without limitations.

    • #196601
      Laura Smyth
      Participant

      In my own school I can think of a situation where there was gender stereo type-it was in relation to school football team and an upcoming tournament. We had been proactive in getting the girls to play football by getting an FAI female coach to do football coaching with the girls only and at the end she ran a tournament for the girls which was very successful and saw girls mixing with the boys at break time in football games, quite naturally. However when it came to the school being invited to a local football tournament only the boys team was brought. This led to a parent coming into the school to question why his daughter wasn’t brought to the tournament. So while we as a school actively encouraged girls participation we had gone with the stereotype of boys only going to represent the school. I think as a school it made us stop & think & re evaluate what message we were giving. We could have challenged the tournament organisers to include girl’s teams & perhaps gotten the students involved in advocating for this. It was an opportunity for highlighting inequality & initiating change. The plan is to get the girls involved next year but I feel we probably failed them this year!

      It would be a good year in the upcoming year to use the PLan International lesson plans challenging job & role stereotypes. I liked the lessons where the children had to match the phrases to the photographs, I think these could lead to very interesting conversations in the classroom and get the children & teachers to challenge their stereotypes.

      • #196660
        Patrick Brophy
        Participant

        Hi Laura, I can absolutely relate to your post and fair play for providing those quality opportunities for all your students. We have had difficult conversations over why certain teams get to go to certain events and it certainly has focused our planning around this also.

    • #196613
      Aisling Corbett
      Participant

      Gender stereotypes can influence expectations regarding academic performance. For example, boys may face pressure to excel in subjects like PE because it is focused on sport and physical abilities, where as girls may be expected to excel in the arts because the students themselves have a view that the girls should be creative and the boys should be physical.
      Gender stereotypes can shape students’ career aspirations. Stereotypes often reinforce traditional gender roles, leading boys to be encouraged towards careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), while girls may be steered towards more nurturing professions or careers like nursing.
      Gender stereotypes can influence social interactions and peer relationships within the school environment. Students may face pressure to conform to gender norms to fit in or avoid being marginalised. This can limit their ability to freely express themselves, pursue diverse friendships, and engage in activities outside the prescribed gender roles. This is a regular occurance in my school, the boys stick with the boys in groups and the same goes for the girls. Students who move outside of these expected friendship groups are often targeted by peers, leading to bullying behaviour.

      Development education methodologies can explicitly promote gender equality as a core value. Development education methodologies can encourage critical thinking skills among children. Through inquiry-based learning and problem-solving activities, students are encouraged to question and challenge gender stereotypes. They can be taught to analyse and evaluate societal norms, gender roles, and expectations critically. This empowers children to develop their own perspectives and form well-informed opinions about gender equality. Development education methodologies often emphasise collaborative and inclusive learning environments. By promoting teamwork and cooperation among students, regardless of gender, children can learn from one another and develop mutual respect.

    • #196640
      Niall Hickey
      Participant

      Gender stereotypes are evident in every school and in particular my school which I started teaching in 3 years ago. The school and local area is very much GAA focused outside of academic performance. I have had incidents where boys didn’t want girls on their teams because they say soccer and Gaa were for boys and that the girls weren’t as good. I had to address this issue straight away and highlighted the success of local girls teams and also Irish ladies teams in the past. I think using development education can help the children understand the important of having equality in relation to gender in all areas of school and not just in PE as I feel sports people put themselves under extra pressure during games and as a result can affect their academic performance on that day.

      • #196670
        Eoghan O’Neill
        TeachNet Moderator

        Hi Niall,

        Exploring issues such as this through the use of elite female teams is a very worthwhile approach. The performances of the Irish women’s and men’s soccer teams in recent years is a perfect example of this. The current dispute between the ladies football and camogie players, and their governing bodies is something that could be a useful stimulus for debate in a senior class. Discussions around the protests currently ongoing, the reasons for these and the importance of equality between male and female players could allow for very enriching learning experiences.

      • #197155
        Mary Mc Elvaney
        Participant

        Hi Aisling,

        I feel like group work is a great opportunity for students to learn with and from one another. Researching topics on I pads is a great way for students to decide amongst themselves their own individual roles. This way they can use their individual strengths i.e. reporter, recorder, illustrator etc.

      • #199771
        Dara Feiritéar
        Participant

        Hi Niall,

        I too had the same with boys not wanting to girls on their team. I always found the key to be playing smaller sided games with complete involvement from all, I often find with large numbered games, children lose interest and decide it’s not for them. When everyone is included it brings about a sense of achievement and this can translate to success both socially and academically.

    • #196658
      Patrick Brophy
      Participant

      I have been out of the classroom for a few years but some stark examples come to mind. During the transition to secondary school, home economics and woodwork typically seen as genderised subjects and pushback from parents when their child expresses an interest in them! Over the years I have seen boys given many opportunities to excel in sport where girls are encouraged to either cheer or chat on the sideline. We have made a conscious effort in our developing school to promote sport for girls, making sure they have equal competitive play opportunities and a proper sponsored kit, and that their success is celebrated equally. Our main strategy for promotion of gender equality is clear communication from junior infant induction that we are an equality based school and each student is treated the same from day one. As a classroom teacher, the pink crayon in ‘The day the crayons quit’ always makes a child friendly, thought provoking argument for gender equality!

      • #196668
        Eoghan O’Neill
        TeachNet Moderator

        Hi Patrick,

        Thanks for your post. The transition to secondary and subject choices is certainly an area in which gender imbalances (often due to stereotyping) occur. Indeed, it goes beyond these subjects – less than 20% of the student population in Leaving Cert physics and chemistry is female. The PDST and UCD have had a collaboration called ‘EDI’ to encourage more diversity in STEM subjects. Furthermore, work is also being done on a ‘Women in STEM’ initiative to rectify this. I love ‘The Day the Crayons Quit’ – a couple of other picture books have been listed above for exploring this topic.

    • #196680
      Noreen Keane
      Participant

      I acknowledge that gender stereotypes exist in our society and indeed in our classrooms. I have had experience of it myself as a child in a small rural 2 teacher school many years ago. However, I am happy to say very little of it is present in the school that I teach in. From day one, we as a staff encourage respect and inclusivity and everyone is treated equally, both adults and children. I experienced degrading and being put down myself as a child, and I do my utmost not to allow it into my own classroom. Our school uses an in-class software, and it groups children to classwork teams, ensuring that all children are included and are in teams where they feel wanted and welcome. Teams can be all boys/girls or mixed. We also run a coffee morning every Friday and our sixth class students, with adult supervision, help out– setting up, making the tea/coffee, serving it up, loading the dishwasher, putting the cups away, playing instruments entertaining the parents etc…. everyone has a role on a rota basis. I believe this is development education, allowing, enabling and giving the children real life values and experiences.

      • #196844
        Fintina Kealey
        Participant

        Hi Noreen,

        I agree, I believe that schools have really come a long way in terms of inclusion and equality. Your classroom sounds full of positivity. I really like the idea of all the children being given roles at the weekly coffee morning as a way of giving them responsibility and a sense of accomplishment also.

    • #196792
      Imelda Whelan
      Participant

      <p class=”MsoNormal”>We are a senior girls’ DEIS band 1 school in an urban setting. We are very aware that our pupils have an increased need for positive role models as they engage with their learning process and also as they develop their own future plan and personal goals and expectations. We follow the premise of “if they can see it they can be it”. To this end, we have engaged with some local companies, who very kindly staff time to come and talk to our pupils about their career paths and their roles within their working environment. One area of these discussions that resonated very strongly with our pupils, was when the staff spoke about how they have to negotiate pay increments and that the male staff are far more comfortable with this process than the female staff.</p>
      <p class=”MsoNormal”>At the start of Science Week, our teachers asked their pupils to draw a scientist. The majority of pupils drew a male figure (predominantly with crazy grey hair, a lab coat and glasses – so the stereotype was not just gender based!). Our approach is to enable our pupils to actively and personally engage with local business people so that they can be inspired to see the roles and career paths that are open to them.</p>

      • #196881
        Eoghan O’Neill
        TeachNet Moderator

        Hi Imelda,

        The ‘can’t see it; can’t be it’ slogan has really caught on and has been used to excellent effect by various sporting organisations. ’20×20′ was another similar campaign in recent years. It’s great that your school has ben able to partner with some organisations to give girls a taste of various careers. I know that the girls school in our locality has a close partnership with SAP, and they are brought on field trips each year in an effort to increase the number of women working in these fields. I find the task about drawing a scientist to be very interesting – the ‘mad scientist’ is the first image that does spring to mind, and further serves to illustrate the unconscious gender stereotyping that we are often consuming.

    • #196841
      Fintina Kealey
      Participant

      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.

      • #196885
        Eoghan O’Neill
        TeachNet Moderator

        Hi Fintina,

        Thanks for sharing your experience of this from an infant perspective. I’m sure you are also likely to see the gender stereotyping when it comes to the type of toys children wish to play with, or the roles taken on at Aistear stations. Aistear is excellent (as you have pointed out) for challenging these stereotypes and getting everyone to take on different roles. I can even see it with my own nieces and nephews – they are often reluctant to start playing with ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ toys but absolutely love it once they begin. Challenging these at any chance we get is so important. As you said, children are coming to school with these pre-conceived thoughts on gender. In many cases, increasing awareness with parents is equally important.

    • #197025
      Katie Doyle
      Participant

      I teach in an all boys school having 5th class last year I found it really interesting working with all boys in comparison to a mixed school. In one particular instance this year, the school council decided it would be a good idea to plan a soccer match between 6th class students and staff. When having the conversation with the boys in my class , they came to the conclusion that it wouldn’t be a fair game as the staff did not have enough male staff members. We had a very interesting conversation about male/female athletes and how gender doesn’t mean you are better or worse at sports. We spoke about how they didn’t get an opportunity to play sports with girls much as they are in an all boys school, this then lead to the idea of collaborating with the girls school next door for a mixed league next year!

      • #197745
        Celine Glynn
        Participant

        I have only ever taught in a mixed school so I have no experience with these issues arising, however, I had always assumed that the children would be more open to expressing themselves as they wouldn’t be seen as ‘playing with the girls stuff’. Or maybe it’s a bigger issue as they are exposed to more of the ‘traditional boys stuff’?

    • #197099
      Eimear Donohoe
      Participant

      Gender stereotypes is clearly evident in schools and it can range from mild to ore extreme.

      A few examples.

      Birthday parties: In a school I worked in the way it was that boys invited boys only to the parties and girls invited girls only to the party. It wasn’t a case of well the boys play with the boys usually. A lot of the time they play in games together like tag etc. However, when it came to the parties a boy didn’t invite a girl and vice versa. One time there was a boy who invited some girls also and it seemed to get a strange reaction.

      Roles and responsibilities around the school: When I first started teaching gender stereotyping in this area was very evident. Say for example the tables and chairs needed to be moved from one room to another, then the boys would be asked to do a job like that as boys were deemed stronger physically. Or if one of the younger children was upset or needed cheering up then that was deemed as a girl’s job as she was seen as a more motherly role. In the school I work at now we challenge things like this and children are chosen at random for physical jobs irrespective of their gender and the same goes for comforting a younger student.

       

      Physical appearance of children: I would find that even though this has changed a lot the appearance of children in particular to the length of their hair. We would have a few boys in the infant room with quite long hair and a lot of their classmates when referring to them before they knew their name would have referred to them using the incorrect pronoun ‘He said this…/’She said this,

       

      Playing games and sports: Often when picking teams, the boys will want to only pick the other boys and vice versa with the girls wanting only girls. We challenge this with trying choose a boy first, next a girl, next a boy etc or just simple encourage them to have a good mix of both gender on their teams explaining that some girls will be faster runners than boys and some boys might have quicker reflexes and vice versa.

       

      • #198041
        Emma Molloy
        Participant

        Some very interesting points here Eimear. We do still live in a very gender stereotypical society. In ways we have moved forward but in other ways the stereotypes still very much exist – like what you said about the ‘strong’ boys moving the furniture or the ‘maternal’ girls comforting those who are hurt. It is an interesting topic, as I myself am still guilty of often stereotyping certain aspects of society based on gender. I need to be aware of this in the classroom and make sure my views are always based on equality regardless of the genders of the group of children before me.

      • #198924
        eimear o callaghan
        Participant

        Hi Eimear,

        It is clear to see that this is still the culture where all the boys are invited to a fellow boy’s party and the girls are excluded and vice versa. However, perhaps we should challenge this idea at another level. As many of the boys/ girls play on a single sex GAA and soccer team from u8 level, they become very friendly with each other ( therefore invited to their party). Perhaps at u8 and maybe u10 level, GAA and soccer teams could be mixed? I’d love to know what others think about this idea.

    • #197150
      Mary Mc Elvaney
      Participant

      From my experience of teaching in a mixed junior school, I have observed students playing with a range of toys. Some have selected a range of colours as their favourite colour from a young age. From teaching Aistear and observing Golden Time, students have constructed a range of accessories in free play. They are encouraged to express themselves through their imagination and share their ideas with others if they wish to do so.

      From my experience this year, students are happy to volunteer to act out dramatic scenes from books, as either female or male characters. Some methodologies such as ‘hot seating’ or ‘role on the wall’ may encourage students to look deeper at character traits and personalities. Yet, it is important for students to know that gender equality is not the same all over the world. It is important for students to be aware of gender stereotypes and to develop a sense of agency. This encourages students to relate to others and to develop their own self-esteem.

       

      • #197217
        Eoghan O’Neill
        TeachNet Moderator

        Hi Mary,

        Thanks for your post. Your use of the word ‘agency’ is telling, and one which is very apt in this regard. We would all be privileged if our work allowed a child to develop his/her own agency and call out inequalities/discrimination, etc. In some of my earlier posts, I pointed to picture books as an effective stimulus for exploring these themes. The dramatic strategies that you have listed are an extension of this. Sometimes, it’s beneficial if ‘personal feelings’ are removed from a scenario and it is discussed through the fictional lens of characters in a book and story. Questions can then be directed to how they would act if they were in a similar situation, etc.

    • #197347
      Naomi Curran
      Participant

      It is obvious from my experience that gender stereotypes affect students on a daily basis. I have noticed this the last three years from teaching 5th and 6th class as it is the boys who wanted to do the jobs in the school that involved heavy lifting such as lifting tables and moving furniture. The girls went for the jobs such as photocopying, spraying and cleaning the tables. I became more aware of this stereotype so I decided to draw up a rota that involved all boys and girls doing all the jobs in the school environment.

      This year we got all students from 5th and 6th to get involved in knitting as part of the Pure Mile initiative. At first the boys were not one bit impressed and they asked did they have to do it. I told them everyone was to get involved. The class was broken up into groups and they did knitting every Friday for an hour. By the end of the year all children had made a knitting square with their name on it and it was displayed on the tree at the front of the school as part of our yarn bombing initiative.

      • #197388
        Profile photo ofpbrennan_jy7f6fe0Pat Brennan
        Course Facilitator

        Hi Naomi,

        It’s refreshing to hear the practical steps you’ve taken in your senior classes to combat engrained societal stereotypes. Flipping the roles/jobs is a simple but really effective way to get student’s to think differently about gender roles. I particularly like the idea of getting all students knitting, an activity strongly perceived as a female one and that despite initial reluctance from the boys. everyone engaged and produced an end product. More of the same I think is the way to go if we are to try and challenge preconceived ideas around gender and earlier we can start this the better.

    • #197512

      This is a real challenge for teachers on a on going everyday basis.I teach 5th class in a mixed Gaelscoil and it is difficult to break down the barriers of gender.I was very interested to read about Naomi’s knitting initiative to put both boys and girls on a level par and to challenge the idea that only girls knit.It is an excellent skill for boys to learn as we know many Irish male fashion designers like Philip Treacy, the hat designer and Pauric Sweeney, the handbag designer. An “unusual ” skill can sometimes be a breadwinner for the talented individual, regardless of gender.

      I have come across a similar challenge in our school where we have chess classes and competitions and it is mostly boys who participate.This is the long standing stereo typing that only boys are good at strategy and maths, and therfore good at chess. I began to encourage girls to practise their basic chess skills and we incorporated chess as a core activity in our annual Maths Week, especially for Rang 2-6. It was very successful but we need to focus on the girls and keep encouraging them to participate. The parents can be very helpful in that it is a lovely game to play with your child.I see that Professor Luke O Neill has commented on the mathematical benefits of parents/ teachers playing board games with children to enhance their ability in Maths.

      As regards Mary’s post about toys, I was thinking how important it is in Aistear that we have a wide variety of dress up clothes and toys so that children are encouraged to act out varied roles as doctors, vets, nurses, firemen, farmers etc. no matter whether they are boys or girls.This is a vital activity in Junior Infants when children are being viewed and judged by their fellow pupils. Children should be strongly encouraged to challenge gender stereotyping at the youngest age possible.

    • #197741
      Celine Glynn
      Participant

      A few years ago when I had Junior Infants, we were doing our RSE lesson where we were learning the anatomical names for our sex organs. Before this lesson I purposely dressed the female doll in the blue babygrow and the male doll in the pink babygrow. Before we gave the babies a bath and discussed their sex parts, we decided to name our dolls. As I had anticipated, the children immediately came up with ‘girl’ names for the doll in pink and ‘boy’ names for the doll in blue. I allowed them to choose whatever names they wanted and then we voted on a name. When I undressed the baby to bath, then we had great conversations about what clothes people can wear and that we can’t make assumptions based on the colours that people wear on their clothes.

      I found this fascinating that at such a young age our children already have these stereotypes concreted in their minds.

      • #197765
        Profile photo ofpbrennan_jy7f6fe0Pat Brennan
        Course Facilitator

        I agree Celine, children make unconscious assumptions based on gender and it is remarkable just how early children start to internalise such assumptions so the sooner we can start to question such notions the better. As you noted even junior infants have preconceptions, identifying certain characteristics and roles as belonging only to boys or girls because of gender preconceptions engrained in our society. Like with the dressing of the dolls we need to think outside the box and use teaching approaches that encourage pupils to debate, challenge and question existing beliefs.

    • #197780
      Peter Mc Mahon
      Participant

      I can recently think of a scenario in my school of gender stereotyping took place. We recently had a female guest speaker in who plays football for Ireland. Some of the boys were in shock and could not really understand the importance of this person in comparison to one of her male counterparts. I thought it was really effective when the speaker was asked her three favourite players that she gave three female players, and told the class to look them up if they were not aware of who they were. This really opened the eyes of the boys in particular in my class to realising about the upcoming World Cup and really created an interest for them in this!

      • #198067
        anny hynes
        Participant

        Hi Peter,

        It is interesting that you have mentioned this.  This is the exact reason we decided to bring in more female speaker, especially those in more gender stereotypical roles, to speak at assembly.  We recently had a commandant from the Irish Army and her aim is to be the first female General.  This really shifted the energy in the hall and the children began asking really interesting questions.  Some stereotypical, such as, can you do this and that?? And once she mentioned she had been a tank driver they were hooked right in.

        We had a teacher who played in the Ladies Premier Soccer League in Ireland and the children, both boys and girls really respected this and a lot of the children went to see her play in the FAI final in the AVIVA.

        There are turning points and changes being made and as you have said with the Women’s World Cup coming up, this gives us the perfect chance to push gender equality and begin here.

      • #198325
        Kevin Barry
        Participant

        Hi Peter,

        I think it is a very good idea to bring female speakers into the school to talk about sport. Some of the boys always think that girls can’t be good football which simply isn’t true and it helps to get away from the gender stereotyping by having female sports stars in to talk to them about sport.

    • #197803
      anna keyes
      Participant

      Module 2 Assignment: Gender stereotypes at a Young Age
      Gender stereotypes I have seen in the classroom. Children often want to play Girls versus Boys in PE lessons. The girls then complained that the boys always beat them in sports. I have also noticed the boys often ‘act’ as girls to joke or mock. They put on high- pitched voices and refer to the girls as being ‘Teacher’s pet’ ‘Never misbehaving’ and basically ‘goody two-shoes’.

      Even I, at times, feel more reluctant to give out to a girl student in the same way I would the boys. I try not to let this affect my discipline in the room but I do notice that I fear the girl students will get more upset if corrected sternly, whereas the boys will ‘take it on the chin’ and move on. It is clear that we, as a group in the classroom, have taken on this stereotype, that boys are more mischievous and tough than the girls. This is something I would very much like to challenge in my classroom and I feel that the PLAN International lessons could really help me to open this dialogue and explore it with my students in our school.

      • #198270
        Kieran Ormond
        Participant

        Hi Anna,
        I notice those trends in my classroom too. Mental maths games are similar to the PE, where after mixed games, the children used to always request boys versus girls. I used to entertain it as they were learning maths either way but as you say, there was always a winning and a losing side that reinforced a stereotype within the classroom. I now try to avoid any grouping aside from random grouping for any task.

    • #197838
      Profile photo ofpbrennan_jy7f6fe0Pat Brennan
      Course Facilitator

      Hi Anna,

      I think our classrooms are microcosms of the society we live in and so are heavily influenced by the engrained gender stereotypes we all experience from birth. By the time children reach the senior end of the school these stereotypes are well and truly internalised and your classroom experience as you’ve outlined is very much the norm. You also reference how you as the teacher are influenced despite being fully conscious of the biases. This again is natural considering the broader societal impact. I agree that the Plan lessons will provide you with the platform to start challenging preconceptions but realistically nothing is going to change overnight. It’s about taking small steps, challenging misconceptions one by one to gradually affect change in attitudes.

    • #197927
      Helen Walsh
      Participant

      As a SET Teacher, different groups of students come into my room throughout the day. I notice how, despite being mixed in their placings in class, the boys tend to sit with each other and the girls sit together. For larger groups, they often ask if they can sit together with the girls or the boys. If a boy wanders over to his peers who are girls the other boys encourage him to sit with them instead and vice versa. Similarly, when playing games, they split off into groups defined by ‘boys’ or ‘girls’ unless teacher led. This is more prevalent as the children get older but it is still noticeable in the younger classes. It is also encouraged through play dates and birthday parties with invitations for all the boys or all the girls in order to keep numbers to a minimum – it seems this is perceived as a ‘natural split’. </span></p>
      Beginning with less definition of toys based on gender roles and working through Aistear and promotion of non-typical gender roles as the children progress through the school may promote questioning of why boys and girls seem to need to sit together based on their gender and make space for friendships to be based on shared interests etc. I think that as Development Education becomes embedded into the curriculum and wider society becomes more open to questioning and more curious about gender stereotypes, a space will continue to open and push conformity boundaries with increased opportunities for less definition based on gender and more on preference. In my class, we use a variety of methods for choosing seats and children readily work/play with whatever group they are with. Making this more explicit enables the children to think before they split off into gender based groups.

      • This reply was modified 7 months, 1 week ago by Helen Walsh.
    • #197963
      Emma Molloy
      Participant

      I teach in an all-boys school and so I see gender stereotyping all of the time. Recently, we reached a unit in our Irish spelling book themed ‘At the Hospital’. There were words like ‘ambulance’, ‘doctor’, ‘nurse’, ‘waiting room’ etc. One of the activities was where the children had to look at a picture and match the correct word to it. In one picture there was a woman with a stethoscope around her neck. One boy said “nurse”, to which I replied “but look what’s around her neck” and his response was “but she’s a woman”. As soon as he said it he went red and knew that he had made a mistake. We did have a giggle about it afterwards but this led us to a discussion about how women can be fire-fighters, pilots, police, professional footballer – which are all stereotypically jobs you would associate with men. By having more of these conversations regularly and including development education in our planning, this highlights these issues and creates a better awareness and understanding.

      • #197996
        Profile photo ofpbrennan_jy7f6fe0Pat Brennan
        Course Facilitator

        Hi Emma,

        I think by their very nature single-sex schools are predisposed to more overt perceptions around gender roles and that’s just the reality in a large proportion of schools in Ireland. There is however so much you can do with your all boys (or indeed all girls if that was the case) class using a debate-led approach to the topic as you’ve outlined. There is of course a bigger picture too, it’s so important at a whole school level to clearly articulate the school’s commitment to having a culture of equality and respect irrespective of the gender makeup of the school.

      • #198428

        Hi Emma,

        I think the conversation after that incident would have been quite effective for the children in your class. By showing the boys that many women can be fire-fighters and pilots etc, helps challenge the stereotype that women can only do  certain jobs. Inviting a female guest speaker to the school from one of these professions may also be an idea!

    • #198064
      anny hynes
      Participant

      Gender stereotypes are all around us, in every age group, in every society. I think the difference now is, we are more aware of them and intend to view things differently. A few years ago there was a lengthy discussion and debate about the word ‘postman.’ There was a national call out for the name to be changed to post person. I had 6th class at the time and the points the children made were extremely interesting and valid. One of the points that kept coming up, from both the males and females, was, could be not just say postman and then postwoman? I completely agreed, but it opened up development of lessons that spanned a few weeks. We looked at other jobs that have gender stereotypes and nurses was one that cropped up a lot. I feel our books and resources have become much more gender neutral and inclusive, so we are seeing slow changes happening.

      I have seen in my school, older teachers in particular, look for ‘strong boys’ to lift some bags or boxes or ‘tidy, neat girls’ to tidy up things. The response that has followed has been enough for me to see we are heading in the right directions. The girls often respond that they are well able to lift things and the boys look disappointed as they too can be neat and tidy.

      As a school we have looked at bringing in woman who are in roles of power and jobs that may have been stereotypically male dominated, to speak to the children at assembly. We had the Mayor of South Dublin, a Commandant in the Irish Army and our local camogie team that won their championship last year. I feel this promotes equality and encourages males and females to acknowledge it and develop their own awareness of gender stereotypes.

      • #198070
        Profile photo ofpbrennan_jy7f6fe0Pat Brennan
        Course Facilitator

        Hi Anny,

        Good to hear that from your experience things are heading the right direction when it comes to gender roles. And commendation to your school for being so proactive in your efforts to debunk societal gender stereotypes. Having visitors/speakers in who have broken our traditional gender role moulds is both empowering and enlightening.

      • #198091
        Michelle O Regan
        Participant

        I agree with Amy regarding the choosing of children for jobs around the school. We need to be very mindful not to stereotype when looking for volunteers!

      • #198641
        Julie-Ann Murphy
        Participant

        Hi Anny,

        I love when something that starts as a small discussion in class becomes a bigger series of lessons and debates. Well done to you for allowing the development of the discussion without feeling totally confined by the curriculum(as many of us often do!)

    • #198088
      eimear o callaghan
      Participant

      This year I was working in a single sex boys primary school. Traditionally the school hold an annual football match at the end of the year ( Teachers v’s 6th class) . All teachers are invited to play, however this year, several female teachers/SNA’s agreed to play. ( Unfortunately I was minding an injury and couldn’t play). It was at this time, that I recognised that gender stereotypes were very much present and evident from the pupils from all ages (from JI’s to the 6th class players themselves). I overheard conversations from many of the pupils who were very confident that the 6th class boys would be more skilful than the female adults on the pitch. Dips were put on certain male teachers who they believed, because of their gender, would score the most goals. Luckily one of the Senior Ladies Dublin Footballers is  working in the school and represented the women very well. Every player held their own on the pitch. For the rest of the week, I overheard the boys talking about her top right corner goal.

      I think having this mixed teachers team play against the pupils was very important for them to witness and acknowledge gender equality and hopefully break societal gender stereotypes.

      I also believe that teachers should be mindful to celebrate great sporting achievements from men/women/boys and girls that have represented their local club, community or country, would encourage these boys to see women/girls as sporting leaders too.  Inviting both male and female sport stars into the school regularly to discuss sport, diet, exercise and following their dreams may help debunk societal gender stereotypes.

      • #198151
        Profile photo ofpbrennan_jy7f6fe0Pat Brennan
        Course Facilitator

        Hi Eimear,

        As mooted previously on this forum, I think that single-sex schools by their very nature unintentionally amplify misconceptions around gender and your story about the teacher’s vs students match in your school demonstrates how engrained these ideas can be. As teachers it’s essential we strive to continually challenge and dismiss these misconceptions and your idea of highlighting some of the misconceptions through the lens of sport is a great idea. We have so many Irish sports people we should celebrate equally both male and female. Katie Taylor, Kellie Harrington and the Irish Woman’s football team to mention just three should be held in the same esteem as their male counterparts and getting local elite sports woman into give talks to classes will be extremely effective here too.

      • #199588
        Ellen Stack
        Participant

        That is really interesting Eimear, I had a similar experience in school this year. However it was based on teams being “unfair” due to the staff team being predominantly female in the end of year game against 6th class. It lead to interesting conversation and discussion in terms of challenging the thought of sporting ability being assigned to a gender.

    • #198092
      Michelle O Regan
      Participant

      I love to visit the junior classes when Aistear is taking place, as it is gender-neutral play at its best. It is fantastic to see different scenes and scenarios throughout the year, from construction to a household setting where the children are hanging clother on a line to hairdressers.

      The play is set up and all children can participate in any role equally. It is so interesting to observe the play and see how it runs its course. Often the children will organise themselves in gender based roles, but for sure aistear has changed gender based play. Long gone are the days when dolls are set up for the girls and the boys play with the tractors. It is an easy way to allow children to play with what they are interested with and explore several roles.

      Whilst all will agree that Aister has changed the way we look at play at stereotypes side of the school, my fear is that it then falls off a cliff and that we return to traditional ways after that. It is important to keep the momentum going and continue to encourage children to view the world through a lens where girls and boys can play or work at whatever they choose as opposed to what they should do.

       

      • #198142
        Profile photo ofpbrennan_jy7f6fe0Pat Brennan
        Course Facilitator

        Hi Michelle,

        It’s refreshing to hear how play in our infant classrooms has progressed and the positive impact the Aistear programme had  but I think you maybe right about things reverting to type afterwards unless a sustained and conscious effort is made in schools to actively challenge societal gender norms in all classes. I think your Aistear example shows, introducing the topic of gender can be most impactful with younger children as they’ve yet to fully internalise prevalent societal misconceptions and biases about gender. It’s a more challenging task in the senior classes but one nonetheless is incumbent on teachers to embrace.

    • #198130
      Niamh Mc Hugh
      Participant

      Over the last number of years I have noticed in my school that the influence of gender stereotyping has changed dramatically. I think it is certainly a mix of the work we do at school at all levels to address the gender stereotyping but also the increased awareness and knowledge around this in the wider community has influenced this change. A few years ago I would have noticed that many of the children starting in Junior Infants would come to school very predisposed to the idea of gender serotyped toys, activities and even choice of colours. Much of this would come from home and on occasions I would have dealt with very disgruntled parents who were unhappy that their son or daughter was playing with or taking part in activities that were, as they saw it, specifically for one gender. However I think, with the continuing work and education we incorporate into our everyday teaching and with increased representation in the media and beyond, this attitude continues to change for the better. Parents and the school community are far more diverse when it comes to gender stereotyping and as a result the children are as well. Nowadays certainly in the classes I have taught in I would see very little gender stereotyping amongst our children and increased support from the community for both genders engaging in activities in  a gender neutral environment.

      • #198140
        Profile photo ofpbrennan_jy7f6fe0Pat Brennan
        Course Facilitator

        Hi Niamh,

        It’s good to hear that in recent years you’ve noticed a dramatic shift  in perceptions around gender roles and the general outlook is more progressive. Whilst you have put forward a number of reasons for this shift I think you should very much focus on the work that has been done in your school collectively to change the mindset. As you mooted dur to societal influences many of the children coming to school for the first time already identify certain characteristics and roles as belonging only to boys or girls because of gender preconceptions and there is a significant job of work to be done at school to challenge and debunk these myths It takes time and perseverance and from what you’ve outlined its something your school has succeeded in doing. Hats off to all involved.

    • #198266
      Kieran Ormond
      Participant

      I found this module on Gender equality to be helpful because it is something teachers experience at many stages throughout their careers and it’s important for educators at all levels to address it when it arises. My most recent experience of gender stereotypes was in the classroom rewards time this year when a class vote chose an art activity over a physical activity, to which a boy in the class suggested; can the boys not go outside to play football while the girls did the art? I took this opportunity to remind the boy that the class vote was of course mixed gender and that the art activity was chosen by the majority of students. I felt a nice way to use the reward time as a reminder of gender equality by designing a jersey for the upcoming Irish women’s world cup (and of course that the men’s team would be wearing throughout the year). I think the most important methodology in combatting gender equality is to address it with discussion to raise understanding in a safe, non-accusatory way.

      • #207189
        Patrycja Mazurczak
        Participant

        Thank you for sharing your classroom experience. It is great to hear about the positive impact of your work and to hear about your experiences in the classroom. The sooner we begin to confront preconceptions, the better, as it takes time and persistence to change them.

         

    • #198323
      Kevin Barry
      Participant

      In an infant classroom I have seen gender stereotypes very evident during free play time. The boys always go to play with the Lego or the building blocks while the girls would always play with the dolls and the doll houses. The boys are very happy to build things using the blocks which is often seen as they grow older and into secondary school where they do subjects such as construction and engineering. The girls pretend they are mothers taking care of the dolls and nurturing them.

      One time one of the girls said to one of her peers that would she like to go playing with the blocks but was quickly stopped being told no that is for boys. She just listened to her and continued playing with the dolls instead of trying to play with the blocks. It is very important in the classroom that both boys and girls are afforded equal opportunity to play with the same toys to help get away from these gender-based stereotypes.

      • #198777
        Christine O’Brien
        Participant

        What is so sad and frightening is that this is seen at infant level.  As an infant teacher myself, I have seen it also and I have also heard adults argue that it is ‘proof’ that boys or girls are innately drawn to something.  What people often miss is that by the time they reach junior infants, they have spent 4/5 years steeped in a world of gender stereotypes.  I would go so far as to saw that stereotyping happens from the minute they are born in the language used to describe their attributes, they clothes put on the children and the expectations of their behaviour.

    • #198423

      Gender Stereotypes can affect children at a young age as they put girls and boys under pressure to fit into presumptions. Children may feel bad about themselves if they do not fulfil these stereotypes.
      A scenario that I witnessed in the classroom where gender stereotypes were evident was when the children were engaging in the topic of superheroes and a certain group was requested to complete research on a female superhero. Some of the boys in this group were unhappy with this as the female superhero was not as “strong” or “powerful” than the male superheroes other groups received.
      Development Education methodologies such as the use of whole class and peer discussions could help combat these stereotypes. These open discussions can challenge real life stereotypes that exist today and real-life examples may be used as this will be more meaningful for the children. Although Aistear is only used in the infant classes which enables children to engage in different role plays, I think role plays using different genders should be reinforced in the older classes to continue challenging stereotypes.

    • #198628
      Julie-Ann Murphy
      Participant

      As a teacher in a senior Boys School it is very easy to slip into a stereotypical mindset when only teaching boys.

      This module has made me reflect on much of my teaching. One small example of this is the toys we use at school in relation to gender inequality. I teach in the special class and the boys in my class love to play with Lego, most of which belonged to my own children. Over the years I have taken in dinosaurs, fire trucks, dragons, ninjas etc for them to play with. I have always by-passed the ‘girls’ Lego sets and never really considered that they might like to play with the flowers, the girl mini figures or the pink Lego bricks.

      Another area which I will now consider in greater depth is the equipment available to the boys at breaktimes which consists mainly of footballs or basketballs.

      I will certainly be reflecting on and applying the methodologies of development education to my own teaching and hopefully become more aware of how I can combat stereotypes in future.

       

    • #198689
      Patrycja Mazurczak
      Participant

      Gender stereotypes can effect young children’s classroom experience, academic performance and well-being in a school environment. The assumptions we make may be conscious or unconscious and can result in children being treated differently or presented with different opportunities based on their gender. One scenario I observed was during play time when the children divided themselves into groups of “boys” or “girls,” and in one instance, I overheard girls telling a boy that he could not play with the dolls because only girls can play with them. Although I have noticed less gender stereotyping amongst children and increased support from the community for both genders, it is crucial to continue to promote a more gender neutral environment.

      I think that providing children with access to a variety of inclusive learning tools and resources is one way that development education methodologies may combat this. Children will broaden their perspective and realize that there are no set rules or expectations based on gender by being exposed to stories and examples that challenge conventional gender stereotypes.

    • #198774
      Christine O’Brien
      Participant

      This is a topic that I am regularly found on my soapbox about and I have had many discussions with my colleagues and friends about. Gender stereotypes are everywhere! From the second the child leaves the womb, they are subject to gender stereotypes, from the types of clothing put onto them to people describing infants as behaving x y and z way because they are a girl/boy etc. Children are exposed to this constantly and often coming from adults that they trust. It then often continues right on into adulthood. Gender stereotyping in turn leads to gender inequality. I recently saw a reel where a man explained it very well. He was doing the grocery shopping accompanied by his small children, where he was met with comments about ‘how great he was for doing that’ and how wonderful he was for having the children with him at the same time. He commented about how his wife would never be met with these comments and he described very simply how the ‘social bar’ is set much lower for men and the inequity that exists for women even in the simplest of tasks.

      In my own classroom (Senior Infants) recently, we had worked a lot on discrimination, whereby work on racial discrimination in turn led to discussions on gender discrimination. We discussed the ideas of ‘boys toys’ or ‘girls toys’, haircuts, nail varnish etc. All the children by the end of the lessons knew the ‘right’ answer to give but as teachers, we also recognise that just because they know it, does not mean that they will embody it. Fast forward a few weeks when a boy in the class arrived in to class wearing a skirt. While one or two children remarked that he was (more in observation and a kind of admiration than criticism), he was supported by a classful of children who accepted that he was simply wearing clothes, not ‘girls’ clothes. On yard however, he was met with three boys from another class who tried to belittle him. However, this was met with strong disapproval from the children in my class. The child in question was fully supported and the other children were educated in the concept of gender stereotyping. When speaking with the child’s mother later that day, she explained that wearing perceived ‘girls’ clothes was something that he had always liked to do but not long before Junior Infants, he felt shamed in the playground about it and had stopped. Due to feeling safe and supported, he now felt confident to come to school in the clothes that he felt most comfortable in. This really highlights how harmful gender stereotyping can be from such an early age and equally the power we hold as educators in creating that positive, safe environment for children free from gender stereotyping.

      • #198840
        Profile photo ofpbrennan_jy7f6fe0Pat Brennan
        Course Facilitator

        Hi Christine,

        Thanks for sharing a really interesting story from your classroom and indeed highlights the harmful effect gender stereotyping can have. I’m particularly taken by the line ‘Due to feeling safe and supported, he now felt confident to come to school in the clothes that he felt most comfortable in’ it demonstrates how positive and safe an environment you’ve fostered in your infant classroom which I’m sure has taken time and perseverance. Great work.

      • #198958
        Grainne Murphy
        Participant

        Hi Christine,

        I really enjoyed reading about your classroom experience of gender stereotypes and how they can have an effect on children. I loved the story you shared and it is fantastic to hear how that child had the confidence to wear whatever he wanted in your classroom!

      • #200872
        Dervilla Ryan
        Participant

        Hi Christine,

        Thanks for sharing your classroom experience of gender stereotyping. It is so lovely to hear the positive impact of your work on gender discrimination in your class and for your student to arrive to school dressed as preffered  feeling supported by his peers!

    • #198775
      Teresa Gillespie
      Participant

      For the first three years of primary school, I attended a co-ed school where boys and girls were seated  separately. I think this type of classroom organisation only served to emphasise the differences between us and didn’t help foster respect or friendships between boys and girls.Nowadays, I doubt if there are many classrooms in Ireland where such segregation is commonplace.

      I can still vividly recall having textbooks in English and Irish ,when I was a child and when I was a young teacher, where gender stereotyping was the norm. Mammy always had a role as the domestic goddess and did the washing up and cooking while Daddy was the one who washed the car and went up the ladder to rescue the cat from the uppermost branches of the tree in the back garden.Coming across such gender stereotypes again and again undoubtedly shaped the career paths of many people.

      Nowadays, there is a greater awareness of the importance of all genders working together, ensuring educational materials are free of gender stereotyping , showing people in non- stereotypical roles and providing girls and boys with a wide range of toys with which to play.

      Using whole class and peer discussion are effective methodologies to challenge gender stereotyping . I have seen Aistear used to great effect in Infant classrooms where, for example, both boys and girls  get to role play as firefighters, construction workers and secretaries. The key is teacher planning and record keeping.

    • #198829
      Profile photo ofpbrennan_jy7f6fe0Pat Brennan
      Course Facilitator

      Hi Patrycja,

      The story you tell of the children’s play is one that most infant teachers would experience regularly.  In fact, it is remarkable just how early children start to internalise gender-based assumptions. Your play experience  is real life stereotyping  and the challenge irrespective of the stereotyping context is that many of the children sitting in front of us already identify certain characteristics and roles as belonging only to boys or girls because of gender preconceptions engrained in our society and it takes time and perseverance to alter these but the sooner we do start to challenge them the better.

    • #198894
      Julie Murphy
      Participant

      I have seen gender stereotypes in many ways. I can recall an event when I decided we would go cooking. A boy stated how cooking is only for girls. I didnt expect a response like that. After that I taught the children how everyone is equal and everyone can participate in any activity regardless of gender. There are no activities that just one gender can participate in. We are all entitled to participate in every activity regardless of gender. I think we need to work closely with others to teach the idea of gender equality. There needs to be more resources gathered on this topic and we need to make an effort to ensure we participate in a wide range of activities so we can encourage particpation from all genders and encourage inclusivity.

    • #198954
      Grainne Murphy
      Participant

      From Junior Infants right up to 6th Class I believe that gender stereotypes can be very evident in our schools. From younger children playing with separate ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ toys to older children playing separate ‘girls’ and ‘boys’ games on yard – eg. Boys playing soccer and girls playing volleyball. I believe that Aistear and how this is facilitated can have a very positive impact on younger children and challenge their beliefs on gender stereotypes. A situation that I have often seen in the classroom and throughout the school is asking for ‘strong boys’ to do jobs that involve lifting things, moving tables and chairs etc. As teachers, and often without meaning to, we  play into these gender stereotypes, so it is vital that we are self-aware and discourage things that enable these stereotypes. To teach about gender inequality I would use a lot of discussion-based activities to challenge children’s thoughts. I would also use the fantastic lessons outlined in this module.

      • #199015
        Profile photo ofpbrennan_jy7f6fe0Pat Brennan
        Course Facilitator

        Hi Grainne,

        In reality, societal gender stereotyping starts from birth and common misconceptions are well and truly internalised by the time they reach school going age so a four-year head start before teachers can start to challenge them. You are the second recent contributor to reference the positive influence Aistear has had in this space for in the same gender misconceptions alluded to earlier can return as children make their way through the school if teachers are not continually challenging and debunking them. Also, as you’ve outlined, we need to be wary of unconsciously playing into stereotyping.

    • #199036
      Deirdre Seery
      Participant

      As a teacher, I’ve seen how gender stereotypes can affect kids, even at a young age. It’s similar to that time we did a group project using building blocks. Boys generally built cars and robots, while girls mostly built houses and gardens. Some of the children appeared to be trapped in their prescribed roles, with boys taking charge and girls providing more support.

      Considering that, we can employ better teaching strategies to combat these preconceptions. We should foster an inclusive environment in which all children feel free to pursue their interests, regardless of what society says is “for boys” or “for girls.” Let’s switch things up so that boys can do things like caring and girls can try problem-solving and leadership.
      <p class=”MsoNormal”>In addition, we can use books, movies, and class discussions to challenge preconceptions and demonstrate various role models who deviated from the norm. By doing so, we educate children to be themselves and be proud of it, regardless of what others perceive based on gender. It is our responsibility as instructors to assist students develop confidence and the sense that they can break stereotypes and make the world better for everyone.</p>
       

      • #200374
        Pauline Cahill
        Participant

        I think that Deirdre has made some great points in relation to gender stereotypes. It is true that the children often assign themselves the roles that reflect those stereotypes.

        We do have a responsibility as educators to help the children to break through those stereotypes and allow the children to be confident in choosing the actitivities that they want to take part in and to follow career paths or subject choices that don’t follow the stereotypes. Providing children with examples of role models who have achieved the unexpected or followed a different path can be very inspiring for children. I teach all girls and I have seen the girls in my class select books in the library that are based on inspirational women in the sciences, sports and other areas. Some of those are based on women in the past and current inspriational girls/women. You can really see that they feel empowered when they read these books and share them with the class.

         

         

    • #199061
      Aoife Slacke
      Participant

      I mainly worked with children at the infant level so I always felt that Aistear was a great way to challenge children and their perceived ideas of roles and gender stereotyping. I came across a great video that shows that young children already have ideas from a young age of which gender is associated with certain professions – I will link it here: A Class That Turned Around Kids’ Assumptions of Gender Roles! I think it would be a great lesson to do with children using the parent body as role models for the children – both male and female. I once was doing a ‘Stranger Danger’ lesson with children and I asked if a stranger could be a woman and all the children shouted nooooooo back to me which was a real wakeup call that children could be in actual danger because of the stereotyping that happens
      We would also face the challenge of keeping girls in sport once the senior end of the school. We are lucky that we have 2 teachers that play Gaelic football at a senior level and are great role models for the children to show them they can have it all.

      • #199285
        Profile photo ofpbrennan_jy7f6fe0Pat Brennan
        Course Facilitator

        Hi Aoife,

        When you get a chance you might share that link your reference as it’s not included above and would be beneficial to have here for other participants to explore. If you are experiencing issues linking to same, you can email it to cpd@teachnet.ie and we’ll publish it on your behalf…

      • #199868
        Aoife Slacke
        Participant

        Sorry thought I had linked it  – https://youtu.be/G3Aweo-74kY

      • #199871
        Profile photo ofpbrennan_jy7f6fe0Pat Brennan
        Course Facilitator

        Thanks Aoife

    • #199287
      Kate McCarthy
      Participant

      I found this module to be very engaging and I find gender roles and stereotypes to be interesting and thought provoking.

      I have taught Junior Infants for the past number of years and have certainly witnessed gender roles and stereotypes come into play. Interestingly I find that young boys rely on gender stereotypes more so than girls-for example, I have never experienced an infant boy choosing the colour pink however girls sometimes chose blue/red. Another example that I see frequently in the classroom is related to toys. Boys are often unhappy when given dolls/doll house to play with as are girls when given trucks, cars.

      I think development education would help combat these stereotypes in many ways. Making the children aware that both genders can play with dolls/truck etc is a simple yet effective way of increasing child awareness of gender stereotypes. As an infant teacher I ensure that I give the children opportunities to play with all sorts of toys so as that they can properly and genuinely chose their likes and interests. I think it is beneficial to challenge stereotypes openly with children from a young age

      • #199299
        Profile photo ofpbrennan_jy7f6fe0Pat Brennan
        Course Facilitator

        Hi Kate,

        Interesting that you note that notions of gender are more pronounced in boys in infant classes and on reflection a point well made. As a number of participant’s have already mooted on this forum Aistear is a powerful tool to use to challenge misconceptions with a focus on gender-neutral play. The challenge remains however that most children have already internalised societal gender stereotypes well before they go to school. That’s why the pivotal role parents play in the development of such ideas cannot be underestimated. In fact, from my experience, parents sometimes actively perpetuate same so it’s not just the pupils who need to change their perceptions.

      • #200170
        Niall Fitzgibbon
        Participant

        Hi Kate,

        I agree that development education would help combat the stereotypes that you have mentioned and I think it is important that boys and girls can choose colours and play with whatever toys they wish, regardless of their sex. However, I do believe that children are naturally drawn to certain colours, toys, etc. I have an 18 month old daughter and I try provide her with a range of toys from dolls, toy cars and trucks, footballs, etc. I find it quite interesting that from a very young age she has always chosen to play with her baby doll, taking on the ‘mother role’, giving it a bottle, pushing it in her pram etc. I think it is interesting to note that when my friend calls over with his son who is a similar age, he always goes straight for the toy trucks and cars. I do think it is important that children are aware that they can play with whatever toys they are interested in but I don’t think that girls should be pushed to play with trucks or boys to play with dolls if they do not wish to.

    • #199468
      Deirdre O’Brien
      Participant

      Having been an Infant teacher for a number of years, Aistear was a major part of my classroom and day to day school life. Our first theme every September was ‘Home’ and this included a role play corner to reflect same. It was always during this theme that I found gender stereotypes to be present. Outside of the normal selection of who would play Mammy and Daddy. The girls always leaned towards cooking and childcare while in this area, while the boys generally ‘went to work’ and many chose to ‘mow the lawn’ using our small plastic lawnmower. Don’t get me wrong, it was not always like this but I would say this scenario was reflected 90% of the time. The idea that boys and girls can do the same things is very important and I think development education methodologies could really help to combat these stereotypes. The slide on stereotypes in the presentation was striking for me as often toys are given simply based on gender and this is what I noted in my own classroom during play time. I really enjoyed ‘Lessons 2 and 3’ from the slides as it tackled the assumptions, we make about people based simply on their gender and the roles which we assign boys/girls. I will use this activity in my future practice.

      • #199521
        Profile photo ofpbrennan_jy7f6fe0Pat Brennan
        Course Facilitator

        Hi Deirdre,

        Thanks for outlining your classroom experience teaching infants. A number of other contributors (as mooted previously) here have referenced how effective Aistear is combatting stereotyping through gender-neutral play but from your experience there appears to be some way to go particularly if 9o% of the time children are reverting to societal norms around gender. However, I get a sense from your post that you’ve seen some progress but evidently there’s a long way to go. This is understandable as breaking down deeply engrained societal stereotypes is always going to take time.

    • #199484
      Louise Brosnan
      Participant

      Gender stereotypes can have a significant impact on pupils at a young age in several ways: Limited career aspirations, negatively impact a child’s self-esteem and confidence, can influence academic performance, can impact social interactions amongst pupils and can dictate how emotions should be expressed. It is crucial to challenge and break down gender stereotypes at a young age to create a more inclusive and equal learning environment for all pupils.

      Development education methodologies can play a crucial role in combating gender stereotypes by promoting critical thinking, empathy, and inclusivity. Here are some ways these methodologies can help:

      1. Promoting gender equality: Development education methodologies can explicitly address gender equality and challenge stereotypes through curriculum content, teaching materials, and classroom discussions. By highlighting the achievements and contributions of individuals regardless of their gender, these methodologies can help break down stereotypes and promote a more inclusive understanding of gender roles.

      2. Encouraging critical thinking: Development education methodologies can encourage pupils to question and critically analyse gender stereotypes. By providing opportunities for open discussions and debates, pupils can explore the origins and consequences of gender stereotypes and develop their own informed perspectives. This can help them challenge and reject harmful stereotypes.

      3. Providing diverse role models: Development education methodologies can introduce pupils to diverse role models from different genders, ethnicities, and backgrounds. By showcasing individuals who have defied traditional gender roles and achieved success in various fields, pupils can broaden their understanding of what is possible and challenge limiting stereotypes.

      4. Encouraging empathy and respect: Development education methodologies can foster empathy and respect for all genders by promoting inclusive and respectful classroom environments. By encouraging pupils to listen to and value different perspectives, they can develop a deeper understanding of the experiences and challenges faced by individuals of different genders. This can help break down stereotypes and promote empathy and respect.

      5. Engaging parents and communities: Development education methodologies can involve parents and communities in challenging gender stereotypes. By organizing workshops, seminars, or parent-teacher meetings, educators can raise awareness about the impact of stereotypes and engage parents and community members in promoting gender equality. This collaboration can create a more comprehensive and sustainable approach to combating stereotypes.

      Overall, development education methodologies can provide a platform for pupils to critically examine and challenge gender stereotypes, fostering a more inclusive and equal learning environment. By promoting empathy, critical thinking, and diverse perspectives, these methodologies can empower pupils to challenge stereotypes and contribute to a more equitable society.

    • #199584
      Ellen Stack
      Participant

      As teachers we see gender stereotypes in the classroom from early childhood years. Through toys and play, I think it has become inevitable that children take on some of these stereotypes from a young age. I have noticed this in my own classroom in the past during Aistear and roleplay in particular. When roles were assigned by the children themselves during play, I noticed that some children had very definite ideas about who should carry out each role. Some boys were often more vocal about the assignment of parts and roles and started to exclusively take on the “construction” or building tasks. This then meant that other males were following this lead and abandoning a particular role or game that they were engaged in, in order to do the same as other boys. I had to think carefully about how to scaffold or structure this element of Aistear, without participating myself and taking away from their independent play. When they started using a “lucky dip” system of who took on each role, the dynamic of play completely changed and it was very interesting to watch how things changed and levels of engagement also benefited. I think development education plays a huge role in terms of targeting this stereotyping and ensuring it doesn’t continue going forward.

    • #199730
      Dara Feiritéar
      Participant

      In my own personal experience as a teacher in the senior cycle, I see gender stereotyping almost on daily basis, ‘from boys are better than girls at sport’ to ‘boys aren’t good at art’ to ‘girls can’t lift heavy stuff’. By the age of 12-13 it can be difficult, but not impossible to change or challenge gender stereotypes.  If we challenge gender stereotypes we can see a big change in ability and behaviour. I do see in many of our books that many illustrations in them are attempting to tackle gender stereotypes and are showing diversity. It is very important for children to know that our identities go further than traditional gender norms. I think the introduction of STEM and the continued use of drama/art in schools does great work in challenging stereotypes. In recent years, when discussing future career, I have heard of children hoping to pursue careers that would not be seen as ‘traditional’. I also think visits in school from people in our community are very important, our community policing officer is female and visits our school at Halloween to advise on the dangers of fireworks etc., the boys are often surprised, but visits like these challenge the sterotype.

    • #199756
      Eoghan O’Neill
      TeachNet Moderator

      Hi Dara,

      I think that we are all very guilty of falling into some of the traps you have listed above. These stereotypes are something which people of all ages are exposed to on a daily basis, be that through social interactions, television or social media. It is not impossible to challenge these, but I think it’s really important to do this from an earlier age. By the age of 12/13, ‘beliefs’ may be so ingrained that they are difficult to ‘turn around’. I saw a Twitter post yesterday about a GAA club’s plan for Cúl Camp this week – they had drawings of all the club’s pitches and the areas each group would be located. I was shocked to see that the boys and girls (from 5 to 13 years old) were kept totally separate. Small changes in this regard, particularly with the younger children, are very important in changing mindsets.

      • #200055
        Eleanor Curran
        Participant

        Dara that is a great idea about how female visitors to schools can have a big impact on the children. I will definitely look into this next year. I had 6th class this year with 9 of my 11 girls extremely sporty and really good at different sports too. By the end of September the boys were begging me not to play boys versus girls.! They wanted mixed teams!

    • #199973
      Kathleen Murphy
      Participant

      <span style=”color: #163c42; font-family: ‘Hind Madurai’, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;”>Reflect on how gender stereotypes might affect your students already at a young age. Describe a scenario you’ve seen in the classroom where gender stereotypes are present and post a reflection (150 words minimum) in this forum as a reply to this post, on how development education methodologies could help combat these stereotypes</span>

      While recent years has seen a change in gender stereotypes I feel that they are still very evident in the classroom. Having started teaching 20 years ago if I had asked the question who makes dinner the answer from the children would have been mainly mammy but this has changed and children are seeing roles within the house more evenly divided and I feel as teachers we need to always reinforce that tasks etc are divided equally and we work together as team regardless of gender.

      Within my classroom in the past I would have been guilty for partnering the girls together/ boys together for activities/ trips and also having a girls line and a boys line. I now let children pick their own friend and line up according to table rather than gender.  Role play in Aistear is brilliant for letting mix and play without stereotypes. Little steps but make a big difference.

      • #199998
        Eoghan O’Neill
        TeachNet Moderator

        Hi Kathleen,

        It is certainly true that the role play aspect of Aistear helps to challenge gender stereotyping, and this is a view shared by other participants on this forum. However, if a gender stereotype already exists, I have found that it can be reinforced within an individual play session. In this regard, I feel the review session at the end of the play is crucial in teasing out your observations, and working with the children to ‘challenge’ this. A picture book can be an effective tool in this regard, as it removes attention away from a particular individual or group, and allows you to explore the topic in a neutral way.

    • #200054
      Eleanor Curran
      Participant

      From Junior Infants right up to 6th Class I think that gender stereotypes can be very obvious in our schools. From younger children playing with separate ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ toys to older children playing separate ‘girls’ and ‘boys’ games on yard – eg. Boys playing soccer and girls doing gymnastics. I teach in a senior school , so I do not have much experience but I am aware that Aistear and how this is facilitated  in the classroom can have a very positive impact on younger children and challenge their beliefs on gender stereotypes. I see it with my own child at home, she likes to try everything. I am in charge of sports in my school. Only this coming year have CnmB decided to have a younger girls league. IN the 20 years I am teaching there has always been a junior boys and senior boys league but only ever a senior girls league. Every year I have to explain to the younger girls that there is no league for them and every year I get the same question how come there is one for the boys. Finally I will be able to say yes girls you have a league! It is just a pity it took the administrators so long to organise it.

    • #200145
      Niall Fitzgibbon
      Participant

      I agree with the statement that gender stereotypes might affect students already at a young age. I believe that educating students about the importance of gender equality is crucial to ensuring equality for all children. I really enjoyed watching the videos based on gender stereotypes and the history of women’s rights provided in this module. I think these can be used in the classroom providing children with an insight to gain understanding of the barriers faced by many girls in particular in the world.

      As teachers, we regularly encounter gender stereotypes in school, from girls not playing certain games or sports at break times or boys being slagged for liking music and drama activities. In our school two teachers run an after school variety club where students practice singing, dancing and drama and they perform a show for the parents at the end of the year. I was shocked to learn this year that two of the boys, who would be involved in drama clubs outside of school, dropped out due to comments made about them joining ‘a girls club’. Since this incident, the two teachers in charge agreed that there must be an equal amount of boys and girls taking part. This has definitely resulted in more boys joining without fear of being judged for taking part in activities that they like and excel in. Development Education methodologies can help combat these stereotypes by promoting critical thinking, empathy and respect for peoples likes and dislikes regardless of their sex.

      • #200156
        Eoghan O’Neill
        TeachNet Moderator

        Hi Niall,

        I’m sure we’d all have similar experiences of certain sports or activities being labelled as either a ‘boys activity’ or a ‘girls activity’. It’s impossible to deny or ignore that this happens among children of all ages. It’s very demoralising to hear the experiences of those two boys you speak of, who felt compelled to quit a club which they really enjoyed. This highlights the need for proper education from the earliest age possible on this topic. Putting in place the simple rule that there must be equal representation from both genders in that activity is a simple first step – the ‘safety in numbers’ argument holds through here. Indeed, with a larger number from a ‘minority’ gender involved, it may encourage others to join when they see it’s fun, enjoyable, etc.

      • #203027
        Shona Barrett
        Participant

        Hi Nuala, thanks for sharing your story about how the boys dropped out of the club as it was seen as a girls club. It just goes to show how influenced children are by their peers at that age and how they wouldn’t like to be perceived in a “negative” light. I think that’s a great idea what the teachers did in terms of equaling the gender balance for this club in order to encourage more boys to join and in turn not worry about the repercussions.

    • #200366
      Pauline Cahill
      Participant

      I think that is is very difficult for students and young children not to be affected by gender stereotypes. As discussions have increased on the meaning of gender, there are still many examples of where traditional stereotyping exists. Toys, expected job roles, subject selection in secondary schools, and interests outside of school to name a few.  Sometimes these roles are undertaken automatically or they are the expected activity. I was recently using a power tool and my six year old niece told me that girls don’t do that. This was due to her seeing only men carrying out these tasks previously.

      I teach in an all girls school with infant boys so it can be difficult to come up with clear examples as I have been teaching girls over the last few years. When I had infants, you could sometimes see the gender influences in the choice of toys during free play. Boys would most often be drawn to transport and construction and the girls would often be drawn to the dolls house and the kitchen equipment. Development education could help combat this by allowing access to all the toys and providing the children with opportunities to use them all. Discussions around why they selected those toys and getting the children to really think about the other toys and what they could do with them would be beneficial.

       

      • #200490
        Eoghan O’Neill
        TeachNet Moderator

        Hi Pauline,

        I think the story you tell about your niece is very interesting, and points to the unconscious gender stereotyping that exists in society – this relates to advertising, roles carried out in television shows, etc.

        I’d be in a somewhat similar scenario in terms of teaching in a single-sex school. We have all boys and while there are not too many examples of explicit gender stereotyping, it can often be seen in the ‘unseen’. The games played during yard are all those that would be traditionally associated with ‘boys’. There have been efforts over the years to provide clubs for children not interested in these, such as art, etc. but they have always struggled to get enough numbers.

    • #200449
      Sinead Moore
      Participant

      I have had the pleasure of teaching the junior classes for a number of years now and time and time again I have been met with gender stereotypes when the students first begin in September. At first I was surprised that children so young would have these ideas about gender but when I think about the way many are treated from a baby eg. Boys wearing blue, girls wearing pink, I can see where it is coming from. Children are already adhering to a number of gender stereotypes. While the concepts are of course all very innocent, it is interesting to observe the way that the advertising of toys, TV shows etc all greatly influence the way that they think. As teachers, we have been provided with the opportunity to challenge these stereotypes and encourage the children to look at the world in a more inclusive way.
      Within the infant classrooms, I have found Aistear to be a really great way observing these stereotypes so we can then find ways and opportunities to break them down. Due to the thematic nature of Aistear, children are often more willing to participate within confining themselves to their preconceived ideas of boys toys vs girl’s toys, and I often see students branch into activities that they usually do not choose during free play. Additionally, Aistear provides opportunities for open discussions about gender stereotypes when looking at job roles e.g. explaining that nurses can also be male and engineers can also be female.
      This module has shown me that development education enables us to view the world from an inclusive viewpoint and encourages us to examine our behaviours to asses them for fairness and equality. I look forward to exploring the resources from this course and bringing them to life within my classroom. I also look forward to sharing the resources and lesson ideas I have gained with my colleagues to lend to a more equal and inclusive whole school environment.

      • #200528
        Eoghan O’Neill
        TeachNet Moderator

        Hi Sinéad,

        It’s interesting that you point out the various stereotypes that children are exposed to from birth. In many cases, this is unconscious and not meant. However, we have recently bought gifts for newborn babies and have gone with blue for the boys and pink for the girls. Advertising, television and social media have a huge role to play in this, with children and adults of all ages.

        Many participants have already noted how useful Aistear is in challenging these stereotypes in the junior classrooms, and it’s great that you have had a similar experience. The debriefing element of the Aistear session is a useful time for getting the children to explain why they took on certain roles, etc.

    • #200772
      Frances Walsh
      Participant

      I teach 3rd /4th class  in an all girls DEIS band one school.  The idea of gender stereotypes has been apparent in my classroom on a number of occasions. One such example is the notion that particular jobs are more suitable for a particular gender. For example female nurses, female teachers, male mechanics, male farmers.

      One such way to help challenge this idea of gender stereotyping would be to research well-known females who have had achievements in the areas of science, engineering, agriculture etc. Famous women such as Marie Curie, Edith Clarke. Pupils would present their findings in the form of a project or podcast style interview.

      Similarly, it would be a great idea to invite a local female engineer, firefighter etc to speak to the pupils about her role in the workforce and the importance of female representation in all areas of work.

      Above all it is crucial in an all girls school that pupils are exposed to STEAM activities as much as possible. Therefore enabling female pupils to learn and develop the skills needed to continue to support their participation the traditionally more male dominant areas of science and engineering.

      • #201710
        Danielle Phillips
        Participant

        Hi Frances, I have seen similar stereotypes of certain jobs seeming more suitable to a particular gender. I think this is definitely influenced by their exposure to books/stories/tv/online content  and parental influence.

        I also think it is so important as a teacher to create change and make them aware of the females/males that work in all areas of work.

    • #200860
      Dervilla Ryan
      Participant

      Reflect on how gender stereotypes might affect your students already at a young age. Describe a scenario you’ve seen in the classroom where gender stereotypes are present and post a written entry in the forum on how development education methodologies could help combat these stereotypes. (150 words minimum). Comment on at least one other post as well.

      I work in a mixed vertical school and have worked across the different class groupings from Infants to sixth class. I have seen the effects of gender stereotyping in all class settings.
      In a junior class setting, I have seen boys cry when being assigned to the dolls house during Aistear or girls claiming the cars were only for boys. Aistear is a great way to challenge these preconceptions and stereotypes in a comfortable setting. The role play corner is an area that everyone likes to play in and a dress up box and teacher/child lead play is a great way to challenge gender stereotypes in a playful and meaningful way. I do find that younger children are more accepting of new ideas/challenging ideas. They also offer some very interesting insights during classroom discussions!
      In the senior class settings I believe that gender stereotypes are definitely more glaring and harder to navigate as the children are more self conscious. There is a real uncomfortableness around challenging what is the “norm.” I have seen boys refuse to take part in a dance lesson for PE as they claimed dancing was lame/girly. Another boy being teased for having long hair on the football team. Similarly I have seen girls teased for playing football or being in the chess club or not dressing or styling themselves a certain way. Children are so impressionable and are very affected by their peers’ opinions. Social media and what is trending/popular heavily influence how children behave. There were some really nice resources shared in this module that could be used to challenge gender stereotypes, teach children to think outside the box and be comfortable in their own skin, behaving and accruing as they want and not how they feel they should act.

    • #200883
      Keelan Conway
      Participant

      Whilst teaching in junior infants on my most recent school placement, I carried out a lesson whereby I sought to challenge the children’s understanding of gender stereotypes. This lesson involved children placing a selection of items (mainly toys) from the classroom in two different hula hoops, one labelled ‘boys’ and the other labelled ‘girls’. It was evident that gender stereotypes were present amongst the young children, as any item which was pink in colour was placed in the girls section, whilst toy trucks and toy cars were confidently placed in the boys section.

      One methodology I used to combat this stereotype was storytelling, and in particular, the story ‘Pink is for Boys’ was effective in encouraging the children to reconsider their understanding of gender. This activity could be developed by a suggested action which was offered during this module. The children could make posters about gender stereotypes and the misconceptions people may have regarding gender, and then hang these posters up around the school.

      • #203166
        Anderley Kooner
        Participant

        Hi Keelan,

        The activity you describe is such a good idea for Junior Infants, understanding gender and stereotypes with a very age appropriate and hands on methodology. There are many different books available as well, as you outlined, which would be age appropriate and this module highlighted very well.

      • #203400
        Vivienne Doyle
        Participant

        Hi Keelan,

        That lesson sounds fantastic. I would love to try that out with my class in the new school year. It sounds like a great way to discover whether there are gender stereotypes present within the classroom.

    • #200923
      Kate Liston
      Participant

      One of the most common forms of gender stereotyping that I have come across in my career is in the area of Physical Education. I often see the strand of dance in the senior classes being neglected, with the excuse that the boys won’t engage with it and that they will be complaining for the lesson because they want to play football or hurling etc. I have found when I teach dance to senior classes that both boys and girls are equally enthusiastic about it, once everyone is appropriately challenged. This situation however, is improving, especially as easily accessible resources and videos to help teach dance are more readily available.

      A huge issue with gender stereotyping in schools is the lack of male representation in the profession, reinforcing for children that caring professions are for women. Some children in this country will progress through eight years of primary school without ever been taught by a male teacher. Of course this is also the case in terms of racial and cultural diversity representation within the profession too.

       

      • #201395
        Yvonne Newman
        Participant

        I completely agree with Kate on the lack of males in the teaching profession . I have 2 brothers teachers as my parents always promoted respect and great regard for teachers in our home . My parents weren’t teachers but promoted teaching as a career for all siblings in our home . Likewise I was encouraged very much into the sciences at school by my parents  and encouraged along the science. healthsciences if I wished . Schools can do a lot to promote gender equality but I do believe that parents and the home have a huge bearing on our childrens attitudes . Emma Watson in the u tube video pays tribute to her parents and her schools that encouraged her to be what she wanted to be .

    • #201394
      Yvonne Newman
      Participant

      Gender stereotypes are often rooted in the toys children play with and limitations placed on them ie telling boys not to cry ‘. Gender stereotypes are harmful and can negatively impact children’s futures . Subject choices in secondary school where girls are expected to choose Arts and humanities and boys are expected to choose and be good at Maths and science can be harmful .

      The early years in Primary school can help address these inequalities . The Aistear programme allows pupils to choose and play with a variety of toys and are not categorised into ‘boys and girls toys ‘ . The SPHE programme which explores topics such as feelings and emotions is aimed at both boys and girls . PE allows boys and girls to participate in all sports . Boys do dance lessons as well as girls doing tag rugby lessons . Extra curricular activities in sport music & drama are for both genders . Science week and STEM allow for equel participation from boys and girls . I really liked the ‘Plan Education lessons ‘ in this course and would hope to encourage staff in the school I work with to integrate these into their SPHE plans for the year . I do school assemblies and I would definitely like to incorporate gender inequality into a theme for a month and extend it with a poster campaign in the school . I really liked the childfriendly template on the UN Convention Rights of the child . Tis could be hung in our school’s main reception are and also in the classrooms . As a school community ‘Acknowledging general stereotypes and their consequences is the first step towards breaking the mould ‘.

      • #201418
        Eoghan O’Neill
        TeachNet Moderator

        Hi Yvonne,

        Thank you for your post and for your comprehensive overview of the different opportunities there are within the primary curriculum to challenge gender stereotyping. I think the layout of the subject areas in the new Primary Curriculum Framework is going to lend itself to more work in this area, as we take a broader, more integrated look at units. Challenging this and promoting equality and an end to gender stereotyping through the use of signage in prominent areas is a great idea, and sends a powerful message to all who enter the school.

    • #201704
      Danielle Phillips
      Participant

      I taught senior infants last year and I also had them for junior infants so I knew them very well by the 2nd year. I teach in a DEIS school in a very diverse community. Even at this young age I could see gender stereotypes present in a number of different school settings. With Aistear playing a central role in the teaching of infants it was apparent that children had already developed opinions on particular themes and activities that I would set up. For example one theme was “The Hairdressers” and many of the boys in the class laughed at the idea of being a hairdresser and some would refuse to take part in a ‘girlie’ activity. One station was dolls heads and they could wash/style/brush their hairs both male and female dolls- I observed a number of the boys engaging in rough play with the dolls and unwilling to try the styling etc. I also would see the reverse with the girls in other themes such as transport when they were given trucks/cars etc to play with they would ask questions like “have you any girl toys we can play with”.

       

      • #203514
        Darragh Greene
        Participant

        I have taught in both very urban and very rural schools and have taught these same Aistear themes too. I’ve observed similar reactions from the boys to the perceived girly activities. However interestingly the boys in the rural school were a lot more open to engaging in the activity than the boys in the urban school were. Likewise the boys engaged in rough play with the dolls however the rural boys were happy to take instruction from their female peers on how to wash the hair and care for the doll but in the Urban school the boys just laughed and played more roughly.

      • #203643
        Eoghan O’Neill
        TeachNet Moderator

        Hi Darragh,

        Thanks for your contribution here. It is the first point on the rural-urban split, and how it contributes to this area. It’s not something that you would be immediately drawn to – it would be interesting to note if there were contrasting opinions on other themes based on school location, e.g. would urban areas have more appreciation of the need for action in terms of climate change versus their rural counterparts?

      • #203786
        Aoife Dorrian
        Participant

        Hi Darragh,

        I have also witnessed similar with boys in urban schools. I was teaching senior infants and the Aistear theme was the hairdressers. The boys refused to engage in the role play or the small world areas as they said it was too girly. They just kept looking at the dolls heads and laughing and throwing the dolls away if the girls came near them with the dolls.

    • #201798
      Maire Stokes
      Participant

      I read ‘Matilda’ with my all boys 4th class this year. We were examining something that had been said to Matilda, I think, by her mother to the jist that she should be more concerned on making herself look good for a prospective husband rather than take an interest in her studies. I threw it out to my boys & asked if her mother was right. I got one very assured yes. Possibly others felt the same but this boy was the only one to verbalise it.

      I discussed the responsibility on us all to present ourselves well & to have good hygiene, but that what we look like on the outside is mostly for ourselves personally. We also revisited a discussion on how important your actions are rather than how you look. (we had done this in previous S.P.H.E. lessons where we examined prejudices due to physical traits)

      Having a love of sport myself I try to highlight amazing sports women to the boys. We watch you tube videos of these women excelling & I also show them males participating in sports they may have deemed ‘feminine’ like figure skating. This year the boys were mesmerised by the athleticism, strength & balance of  these men & women.

      We studied women who were pioneers in the fields of architecture, computer science & engineering & how the feats of many women through history were not documented or lauded as highly as they should have been. I try to lead by example also as I believe that it is in their own lives that children need to witness fairness for all. I will lift heavy items, climb up on tables if needs be & haul anything around the school if needed.

       

      • #201824
        Eoghan O’Neill
        TeachNet Moderator

        Hi Maire,

        There are so many examples of popular culture promoting and sustaining these gender stereotypes. It’s fantastic that one pupil in the class did feel strongly enough to speak up, as it afforded the whole class some valuable learning experiences. Being able to tease out why people may hold these views, and why they need to be challenged is excellent. The ‘can’t see, can’t be’ campaign that has ran in tandem with female sports can very much translate to sports and activities that may be considered ‘feminine’. Establishing a safe space where all individuals can explore their interests and passions is a key part of what we want to achieve.

    • #201868
      Declan Hogan
      Participant

      In a science class, the teacher asks students to name famous scientists. The boys all shout out male names, while the girls are silent. The teacher asks why there are so few female scientists, and the boys say it’s because women aren’t as good at science. The teacher challenges this stereotype by pointing out that there have been many brilliant female scientists throughout history. She also points out that there are many factors that contribute to success in science, not just gender.

      This scenario shows how gender stereotypes can be present in the classroom, even in subjects like science. It’s important for teachers to be aware of these stereotypes and to challenge them whenever possible.

      Here are some other examples of gender stereotypes that might be present in the classroom, shortened:

      A teacher assumes that all boys are interested in playing sports and all girls are interested in playing with dolls.
      A teacher asks a boy to help with a science experiment because he is assumed to be better at science than a girl.
      A teacher tells a girl that she should be more quiet and ladylike.
      These stereotypes can have a negative impact on students’ self-esteem and their ability to succeed in school. It is important for teachers to be aware of these stereotypes and to challenge them whenever possible.

    • #202028
      John Merrins
      Participant

      From teaching sixth class students this year some gender stereotypes were very evident however some were also I feel challenged as I had many female students participating in the sports which normally in previous years teaching this age group would have been associated with the male population in sixth class. It was refreshing to see this change as it allowed others within the class become involved in sports like soccer, boxing and rugby.
      Our class took part in a special interest’s day and this concept allowed many of the girls within the class speak about their sporting interests which on a whole school scale allowed gender stereotypes to be challenged. I feel the key to reducing stereotypical ideologies is to limit or move away from the concept of single sex schools. By doing so it allows the female population of the class to display and speak about their interests moving away from the stereotypical, only the boys will play football on yard/ break times, perhaps.
      Personally, I now feel huge emphasis needs to be placed upon how girls can also be interested and participate in the sports or games that traditionally would have been associated with the male population in the class. I feel this can be done by acknowledging the success of the Irish women’s soccer team. As a nation reaching the world cup finals needs to be acknowledged and as educators, we must encourage young girls within our class to rise above gender stereotypes and reach for their own goals.

      • #202201
        Eoghan O’Neill
        TeachNet Moderator

        Hi John,

        It is fantastic to hear that there was such a large cohort of girls in your 6th class that were able to challenge these stereotypes in relation to competitive sports. The idea of a ‘special interests day’ across the school is one that intrigues me. I think it’s an excellent idea and creates a safe space where those with ‘niche’ interests can express themselves. There is a certain safety net for people to truly be themselves and there’s a certain ‘safety in numbers’ element, which allows both boys and girls to select interests that may be predominantly associated with the opposite gender.

      • #202520
        Joanna Hughes
        Participant

        I also had a similar experience in my last 2 years with 6th class John where mainly the girls played sport and had the huge interest in it. Definitely an interesting turn on how gender roles are changing.

    • #202234
      Barry Wall
      Participant

      Confronting all types of stereotypes in our schools is important, tackling gender stereotypes of course being no different. I feel that we are lucky enough to be living in a country where both males and female have equal rights regarding their access to education. A case in point where this is known to be different is under the new regime in Afghanistan. Of the 78 million school aged children globally that don’t attend school an estimated 62 million of those children are females. That is a staggering 79%. (source UN)  It is seen as more important to educate the male gender, surely this is unethical?

      I think schools in Ireland are more inclusive than before. Nearly all schools will enter both male and female teams into sports competitions like Cumann na mBunscol at primary level. In secondary school it is vital to give equal opportunities to all students regarding the subjects they will take on at exam level. It is fair to say that male parents are more hands on and involved in rearing children than before in Ireland, therefore access to subjects such as Home Economics which historically has always had a childcare strand is important. Long standing trends can change when challenged, not that long ago qualified accountants in Ireland were once predominantly male but now there is almost parity across gender.

    • #202518
      Joanna Hughes
      Participant

      I work in a rural co-educational school in a small village. I teach 6th class and have definitely seen gender stereotypes very much at play in my classroom and the greater school community. For example in my class this year (34 students) there were many “alpha male” type boys in the class, who were sport mad, would not touch anything perceived to be “girly” or “feminine”. During art If a song requested was too girly, they would be revolted. Because the boys were such strong personalities, I found that the girls often felt overshadowed and did not fight to have the loudest voices.

      One example that sticks out was during our students council elections, I had 11 boys go for the role and only one girl. I decided to have a chat with the class, and made a powerpoint presentation about inspiring women in politics and social change, such as Rosa Parks, Greta Thunberg etc. I really pushed the idea that we need women with loud voices just as much as we need men. In the end 8 girls went for the role and I had messages in from parents shocked and delighted that their daughter had pushed themselves.

      Some methodologies and ideas I feel are important in tackling gender stereotypes are simple – but effective. Such as talking about an issue, unpacking those stereotypes, and asking why do we feel like that. Often the students have the answers but need the platform to be able to realise them. Celebrating international womens day. Choosing books, songs, artists created by female artists.

    • #202591
      Ronan McGrath
      Participant

      Gender stereotypes can affect children of all ages. A lot of it is often passed down by older generations. For example, I once dressed my little girl in a blue top and I was complemented on how pretty my son looked. Other things like boys should play with certain toys and girls should play with certain toys instead of just letting the child enjoy the toy regardless, especially if they are having fun.
      In school, I have also been guilty of gender stereotyping. The school I a currently teach in has always been known as a GAA school, even though the campus is right next to the local soccer team and many of the children play for both clubs. So when I first moved to the school, I offered to start a soccer team for the boys, as I presumed the girls wouldn’t be interested. I was very wrong! After telling my 6th class, that I might start a school team, I had two girls standing at my desk asking would there be a girls team. I said, sure if they think there would be enough players to make a squad. They assured there would, so I asked them would they rather train on Monday or Tuesday. The very next Monday, i had 42 girls trying out for the team.

      • #202644
        Eoghan O’Neill
        TeachNet Moderator

        Hi Ronan,

        Thank you for your post. It is so often the case that these stereotypes are passed down from older generations, and society as a whole. Even now, the gifts that are given to newborn babies are dictated by its gender – a pink fleece if it’s a girl and a blue fleece if it’s a boy. The reaction that you received from the girls in your school is fantastic, and goes to show the interest that is there if the opportunities are afforded to them. We must do all we can to channel this interest from an early age and hope that participation and involvement continues beyond a child’s primary school years.

    • #202868
      Caroline Walsh
      Participant

      Gender stereotypes can affect students at a young age. They can be rooted in childhood by the choice of toys given to children. Girls may receive only girl toys and boys may receive only boys toys. I think of a large toy store and the toys are arranged in separate isles according to toys for boys/toys for girls. At a glance, the girl toys aisle is bright pink in colour and the boy toys aisle is predominately blue/dark blue coloured. From a young age, limitations can be placed upon children based on gender. For example, only Dads take out the bins/paint the house/fix things. Only Mums clean the house/iron/cook. Only females do these jobs/only girls do these jobs. Such stereotypes can be damaging and negatively impact a child’s future. Gender stereotypes can shape preferences and career paths.

      Children may think that only girls play with certain toys and only boys play with certain toys. Lesson 1 desribed in this module questions the children about if girls and boys like the same things. Then showing pictures and asking, can a boy like this/can a girl like this. Why/Why not?
      Lesson 2 outlined challenges gender stereotypes where the children match pictures of likes to a child picture. Then look at which were assigned to boys/girls. Challenge them to question the stereotypes they may have about being a boy or girl.
      Lesson 3 challenges gender roles – do you have to be a certain gender to do certain jobs, that men and women can do any job regardless of gender. Say to the children a statement like “I am a dancer” and have the children draw the picture. After, record how many boy dancers/girl dancers were drawn.
      Lesson 4 discusses gender inequality. Discuss with the children needs and wants, then how some children have rights disrespected and how often girl’s rights are disrespected more.
      Lesson 5 deals with gender inequality, exploring inequality due to an unfair choice. Explain the concept of voting to the children. Split the class in two and give them a choice based on pictures.
      Ask: Is it fair that some girls in the world don’t go to school? How would feel if you were one of these girls? Is it like how you felt in a game that you was unfair?
      What we would like the children to understand that as citizens, we aspire to have a society where everyone is equally valued and cared for, free from discrimination.

      • #203121
        Niamh Flannery
        Participant

        Hi Caroline, I agree that gender stereotypes are rooted in childhood. I think we as educators have a responsibility to try and break these stereotypes down. I really like the sounds of the lessons you have described!!

    • #203022
      Shona Barrett
      Participant

      From a very young age some boys and girls are exposed to the idea that girls play with dolls, like the colour pink and engage in feminine past times while boys prefer masculine activities and don’t show emotion. These are a few preconceived ideas hat people can have in relation to genders.

      Teaching in a developing school in Dublin 15 I still see that Gender stereotypes can be prominent in the classroom among all ages. Although I feel that stereotyping of genders has improved a lot in certain aspects such as boys wearing pink clothing or partially pink boots when playing football etc. there is still a long way to go in some regards. This can be seen in school as young as junior infants when observing gender roles when children are engaging in Aistear or free play. I have noticed myself on separate occasions where the boy asserted himself in the masculine role of the builder, doctor or the police man while the young girl assumed the feminine role of the nurse or the teacher.

      I have also witnessed gender stereotyping in senior classes where a boy who competes at a high level in dancing was questioned by another boy why he danced as that was something that girls did.

      Making children aware of the fact that anyone can be anything is extremely important as an educator in order to overcome gender stereotypes. Development education can aid in combating these stereotypes. I feel that this could be achieved by diversifying lessons, including a range of texts and books from a wide variety of perspectives to break down stereotypical gender roles as well as interactive lessons and discussions around perceived gender roles.

    • #203114
      cristina bermudez
      Participant

      Hi My name is Cristina and I am teaching the younger ages.

      Even though girls and boys play with each other at this younger age where you can see how girls and boys tend to divide from around 3rd class up, you can still see gender stereotypes at play in the classroom. As teachers we need to be aware of them and to challenge them as they arise and also through the curriculum. if not it can impact negatively on children’s learning and development as they grow and develop. It can influence how they view themselves and how they fit into society. It influences their thinking, and behaviors and can impact their self-image.

      during Aister role play with the Kitchen, I observed the children’s interactions one day and viewed how one boy (leader) thinking impacted their play. He viewed the girl as doing the cooking and assigned the girl in their group to that as that is what mammies do. This was a learning opportunity that I followed.

      if you look at some of the developmental theories such as BF Skinner, he believed that learning takes place from reinforcement and punishment girls and boys being either reinforced positively or punished negatively for engaging in what is deemed socially as gender-based roles. Abert Bandura theory shows how modeling learning in children’s lives whether intentional or unintentional children develop an understanding of their world through this method. in Schools, it is very female t4eacher dominated this can also have an impact on what children deem as gender-based roles.

      As teachers, we need to through the curriculum, environment, and interactions have gender-neutral practices. promote gender-neutral play in and outside the classroom and challenge biases and discrimination as they arise.

      • #203196
        Eoghan O’Neill
        TeachNet Moderator

        Hi Cristina,

        Thank you for your post. It is correct to say that gender stereotypes do manifest themselves in junior classrooms. Indeed, it is probably fair to say the foundations for the ‘split’ you mention, occurs from a child’s formative years. The Aistear observation you had is a perfect example of being able to use play to address social issues – getting the children to explain why they felt the girl’s role should be as a cook and teasing out what is right/wrong about this statement is so valuable. If we can get children of all ages thinking about and challenging what they felt were ‘societal norms’, then it would be fair to say that we are doing a good job.

    • #203120
      Niamh Flannery
      Participant

      I teach in a school that was originally an all girls school. They now have boys and girls mixed from Junior Infants to 1st class. I taught Junior Infants last year. It is very clear to see gender stereotypes affecting children from such a young age. An example of when it is extremely evident is during Aistear. I worked very hard with the boys in particular, to adapt to various role play set ups. Some boys were very reluctant to engage with the Home corner where there were dolls and other toys typically associated with girls. Constant modelling and support to children on how to play with various toys that they are not used of seeing can really help to challenge gender stereotypes in the younger classes. Drama is another example of where it can be challenging. We are very lucky to have a Drama teacher who puts on a Christmas show with the infants. She encourages the boys and the girls to play the parts of female and male characters. This also helps to challenge gender stereotypes.

      • #204519
        Sarah Coughlan
        Participant

        Hi,

        I had a very similar situation when it came to boys and girls engaging differently with Aistear activities. Thanks for your comment!

    • #203187
      Anderley Kooner
      Participant

      Gender stereotyping is everywhere within our society and culture. It is a difficult one to decipher at times as it is so embedded in our everyday lives and norms. From the youngest age groups of Junior and Senior infants we see cohorts of children entering the school system with those stereotypes and unconscious biases already in place. From working with Junior infants I know from my own experiences that the children will automatically label toys and activities as ‘girls’ and ‘boys’ and be reluctant to participate at times because of this. I once had a boy tell me that he ‘doesn’t do dancing as it is for girls.’ As the course outlines, it is important for us as teachers to be aware of these stereotypes and ensure time is spent to address and discuss them. Actively encouraging children to choose activities they want, even if it is deemed a different gendered activity, and celebrating this with the class is important with younger children.

    • #203503
      Darragh Greene
      Participant

      Gender stereotypes can significantly impact primary school students from a young age, shaping their beliefs and behaviours. I observed first-hand, boys being encouraged to play with construction toys, reinforcing the stereotype that they should be interested in engineering or building, while girls were directed towards dolls, promoting the notion that they should focus on caregiving roles. To combat these stereotypes, development education methodologies can play a crucial role. Firstly, teachers should create a gender-inclusive environment that promotes equal participation and representation. By incorporating diverse role models and stories in lessons, students can see that their interests and aspirations are not limited by their gender. Additionally, teachers should encourage students to explore a wide range of activities and interests, regardless of traditional gender roles. I have used Aistear in the infant classes to enable the boys and girls experience traditionally gender specific roles in the hope of empowering both genders to have an open mind towards future careers as they progress through school and life. By breaking down these stereotypes, children can develop a more inclusive perspective, fostering empathy, and understanding among classmates. Ultimately, nurturing a classroom culture that celebrates individuality and challenges stereotypes will empower young minds to grow without restrictive gender biases.

      • This reply was modified 6 months, 2 weeks ago by Darragh Greene. Reason: Format
    • #203524
      Peter Gillooly
      Participant

      Gender stereotyping is a significant issue in primary school settings. The issue comes from once again misinformation and miseducation when it comes to gender. I teach in an all boys primary school setting and can see first hand the gender stereo typing that can take place in school. Simple things like primary school lads not wanting to play football at yard can lead to stereotyping, name calling and issues in the classroom environment. I think proper education is needed at this young age and the re enforcing factor should be that the children should be encouraged to ‘be themselves’ rather than to be focused on specific genders. It is our job as educators to break down these gender specific ideas and educate the children with open minded thoughts , something that I think the lesson plans and ideas in the course provide us to do. In summary, focusing on developing the children as individuals rather than focusing on gender specific ideas is key to helping children grow up independently and confidently and being who they want to be.

      • #203646
        Eoghan O’Neill
        TeachNet Moderator

        Hi Peter,

        I’d echo your points in this post wholeheartedly. As someone who also teaches in an all-boys school, I would have similar experiences. Those children that do not engage in football often tend to be at a loose end during yard times. Our student council have attempted to provide some organised games for these pupils and it has been met with a great response. Teaching in a single-sex school can often make it more challenging to break down these barriers, as there are few opportunities to learn or tease out what happened during a particular event, comment, etc.

      • #204468
        Ann-Marie Ronan
        Participant

        Hi Peter,

        I can totally relate to your comment also! The boys not wanting to play football during yard time leading to stereotyping. The children should be encouraged to be themselves and be given opportunities to flourish. Development Education can aid us in breaking down barriers.

    • #203782
      Aoife Dorrian
      Participant

      I believe that gender stereotypes are in every Irish classroom. Although the children often say things that is evident of gender stereotypes, I believe they do not mean this in a mean or harmful way. For example, if I told children in my class to draw a picture of a gymnast they will all draw a girl and if I told them to draw a picture of a footballer, I am sure they will all draw a boy. However, they do not do this intending on hurting someone’s feelings and they would not judge you or call you names if you were a girl playing football. However, I do believe gender stereotypes are improving. For example, the Ireland’s women’s team playing in the world cup may result in some children drawing a female footballer instead of a male.

      The lessons from the Developmental Education Teacher Handbook look very engaging and I will definitely use them as an aid to help combat gender stereotypes in my classroom in the upcoming year.

    • #203934
      Éadaoin Garrigan
      Participant

      I found this module to be both very interesting and also very thought provoking. I think there is a lot of discussion in general on gender at the moment, in the media and especially online and it is only to be expected that children will be exposed to this. I am teaching in a mixed school and it has surprised me in many ways to see the role of gender and how the children view gender. In the younger classes, boys and girls tend to mix together and play similar games but as children get older, you can see the gender differences arising and boys begin to mix more so with boys and girls mix with girls. Another participant made the point that one way to combat gender stereotypes in the classroom would be to not always associate the strong work with boys – as in, girls can also be asked to carry some PE equipment or school books etc. At the same time, boys can be asked to do all sorts of jobs and not just labour intensive ones. I believe many of the lessons in the development handbook would be useful in teaching about gender and I particularly liked the lesson where the children listen to boys and girls listing their interests and then discuss to see whether boys and girls like different things or whether some likes are indeed the same.

    • #204048
      Michelle Ryan
      Participant

      This year, I taught 6th class in a rural school where the ratio was 3:1 boys to girls. The World Cup was very popular amongst the class. One day, a conversation started about who was better at soccer, boys vs girls. The boys were convinced that boys had the upperhand, their arguments were that mens soccer is “better to watch”, it gets more TV time, more sponsors, better paid players etc.

      We delved into this conversation for a full week, exploring how media can be biased and alter our perceptions. It turned out that when we google searched soccer players, men were always the top results.

      An interesting search we came across was “Who is the top scoring soccer player?” Top Google result is Ronaldo; an obvious answer for the children. However, when we dug deeper, we found that Christine Sinclair has actually surpassed Ronaldo’s goals scored in international football. This was a huge eye-opener for the children and educated them on not believing everything they read online.

      I also found that as the children talked about secondary school this year, there seemed to be this idea still of girl subjects such as art and home economics, and boy subjects such as woodwork and technical graphics. Again, we used iPads to search for famous chefs to see Gordon Ramsey was a male chef showing that home economics was not just a “girl subject”.

    • #204518
      Sarah Coughlan
      Participant

      Gender stereotypes can have a profound impact on students, even from a young age.

      I have observed a scenario in a classroom where gender stereotypes were evident. During a class activity were students were asked to draw what they would like to be when they grow up, I noticed that most boys drew pictures of doctors, engineers and astronauts, while girls mostly drew nurses and teachers. When questioned the students explained that these are ‘boys jobs’ and ‘girls jobs’. I feel they pick these stereotypes up from media such as TV but also in the toys they play with.

      Development education methodologies offer an effective approach to address these stereotypes and promote a more inclusive and equitable learning environment through role reversal activities, critically analyzing media and literature, by promoting inclusive language in the classroom and introducing students to diverse role models.

      Incorporating these methodologies into our teaching means we can create a classroom where students can question and challenge gender stereotypes.

      • #204546
        Profile photo ofpbrennan_jy7f6fe0Pat Brennan
        Course Facilitator

        Hi Sarah,

        I agree gender stereotypes can have a profound effect on children from and the earlier we can start to challenge and debunk engrained societal misconceptions around gender roles. You’ve outlined your own experience of the girls in your class drawing themselves as teachers and nurses while the boys perceived themselves as doctors and engineers, a real-life example of engrained societal stereotyping around gender. The challenge irrespective of the stereotyping context is that many of the children sitting in front of us already identify certain characteristics and roles as belonging only to boys or girls because these preconceptions and it takes time and perseverance to alter these. Development education methodologies as you cite certainly help in this task but also schools and staff leading by example.

    • #204548

      Gender stereotypes exist from such a young age. In our school we are contantly trying to focus on targeting gender stereotypes. Playtime in the junior classrooms is where we encounter boy/girl stereotypes. We use role-play to help challenge these  gender stereotypes.

      At break time we encourage boys and girls to play soccer together, we run leagues where teams are made up of boys and girls.

      I tend to use baking as a treat/reward, boys are as eager as the girls and they thoroughly enjoy it.

    • #204606
      Ann-Marie Ronan
      Participant

      Even though I am aware that children from a young age are stereotyping around gender, it was very interesting going this module and reading comments above. I find it is important we are aware and that we try our best to (as said above) ‘debunk and challenge’ societal misconceptions.

      I work in an all-boys school and brought in a doll and buggy for Aistear. At the beginning of the week, there were many comments passed and the doll and buggy sat untouched. By modelling positive play, some boys became involved. Some boys had the opinion of ‘boys don’t play with dolls’ ‘dolls are for girls’. Even though this gender stereotyping was displayed, the children soon learnt that this doll was actually fun! Even if the buggy was used as a ‘race car’ every so often, it was still progress! Children need to be educated in order to combat Gender Stereotypes. This module provided great resources; lessons and ideas to implement in the classroom and share with colleagues.

       

    • #204845
      Deirdre Ryan
      Participant

      From my teaching experience some form of gender stereotyping is apparent in every class I have taught. Gender stereotypes exist almost from birth and affect our children directly and indirectly. From the gender reveal using pink or blue,to baby clothing and nursery decoration, to the toys children are given and the stories they are read..gender roles are often very clearly defined from a very young age. Family make up, television, marketing and society in general often feed into a ‘traditional’ viewpoint of gender norms and stereotypes.

      In our classrooms we have to ensure to challenge any existing gender stereotypes as they arise and we have to actively promote equality and fairness across genders. We must stop and reflect on our own classroom practice-do we have a good mix of typical’ boy’ and ‘girl’ toys and books, and do we allow and actively encourage all children to play with both? Do we give out roles and jobs to our students depending on their sex or can a girl take out the bins and a boy play Cinderella in the school play? At break times are their equal opportunities for both boys and girls to engage in sports etc.Do we celebrate diversity and expose children to literature that challenges stereotypes e.g. The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams? Do we shine a spotlight on good role models from both genders?

      Development Education methodologies are a wonderful starting place for any teacher who is unsure of how to approach the subject of gender equality and  gender stereotypes within their classroom because it is child centered and allows for open and safe discussion. The UN Rights of the Child child friendly version is a wonderful resource to support this.

    • #204958
      Andy Quigley
      Participant

      From my experience, I have noticed numerous times how gender stereotypes have affected my students. Examples of this include students in my class (boys) being influenced by stereotypes when choosing what toys they want to play with. For example I observed boys in my class making a comment to another boy in the class when he picked up a doll. He was told that “dolls are for girls” which obviously is not the case. However, when discussing different professions with 3rd class, I was interested to see if there would be any gender stereotypes mentioned in the class, for example, if the class would say certain jobs were more suitable for men and others more suitable for women. I was happy, and almost surprised I must say, to hear that the class were in agreement that no jobs were better suited to a certain gender. When it comes to gender stereotypes in primary school, from my experience, it depends on the age cohort of the class.

    • #205326

      <p style=”box-sizing: inherit; border: 0px; font-size: 12px; margin: 0px 0px 1.6em; outline: 0px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; color: #163c42; font-family: ‘Hind Madurai’, sans-serif;”>This was a really interesting and insightful module. It has heightened my understanding and awareness of gender and its impact in the classroom. Gender stereotypes exist from such a young age. From an early age children are taught which toys, colours, games and books are for boys and which for girls.  In our school we are contantly trying to focus on targeting gender stereotypes. Playtime in the junior classrooms is where we encounter boy/girl stereotypes. We use role-play to help challenge these  gender stereotypes. Using Aistear is an invaluable activity which allows children to play different roles and challenge traditional stereotypes.</p>
      <p style=”box-sizing: inherit; border: 0px; font-size: 12px; margin: 0px 0px 1.6em; outline: 0px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; color: #163c42; font-family: ‘Hind Madurai’, sans-serif;”>At break time we encourage boys and girls to play soccer together, we run leagues where teams are made up of boys and girls.</p>
      <p style=”box-sizing: inherit; border: 0px; font-size: 12px; margin: 0px 0px 1.6em; outline: 0px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; color: #163c42; font-family: ‘Hind Madurai’, sans-serif;”>I tend to use baking as a treat/reward, boys are as eager as the girls and they thoroughly enjoy it.</p>

    • #205528
      Sarah Farrell
      Participant

      I teach in an all -boys school and have previously taught in an all- girls school. I am teaching over 10 years. Looking back to when I first qualified, I can see an improvement in gender stereotypes, however, they do still exist. It is very easy for gender stereotypes to affect children particularly in a single sex school. This can be very evident in the choice of toys available to the children. It can also be seen in PE where in the boys school football and ball games are among the favourites. I have noticed it also in other extra- curricular activities where knitting and baking are mainly offered in the girls school I previously worked in and STEM subjects are available to the boys in my current school.
      I think these gender stereotypes can be challenged and the children can be educated about this topic through play – Aistear particularly for the junior end of the school and golden time or as rewards in the senior end of the school. Drama is also a nice way of challenging gender stereotypes. I also feel it’s very important as teachers to model to the children and openly challenge gender stereotypes through role play and making conscious choices through the language they use in the classroom and by providing resources that challenges gender stereotypes. Openly talking about stereotypes and inviting the children into the dialogue it hugely important too.

      • #205628
        Eoghan O’Neill
        TeachNet Moderator

        Hi Sarah,

        Thank you for your post. As someone who has worked in both single-sex schools, you are in the unique position of being able to assess the pre-conceived stereotypes that exist between the genders in both settings. It is very interesting to hear your experience of the different extra-curricular activities that were offered in both schools. While not surprising, its does highlight why programmes and initiatives need to be put in place in third-level education and beyond to encourage more women to become involved in STEM Careers. The logo of ‘can’t see, can’t be’ that is used in ladies sports rings true in this case (for both genders)>

    • #205741
      Anna O’Gara
      Participant

      Gender stereotypes are present from Junior Infants to 6th class. During Aistear children will adopt the stereotyped gender roles,girls playing nurses and boys taking on the stereotyped male roles.

      Girls sometimes tell boys in the class that they cannot play with their dolls as it is for ‘girls’. Similarly, I have overheard boys telling girls that they can’t join in on sporting games. I believe it is the role of the teacher to completely stand against the gender stereotypes and model correct behaviour.

      In Art lessons, I have noticed even teachers offering boys suggests of drawing/ painting things associated with action, sports, or vehicles. Girls are suggested to dram fairies, rainbows, flowers, animals, or princesses. These patterns reflect societal expectations and preconceived notions about what is considered appropriate or “normal” for each gender.

      I enjoy using walking debates to create discussions about development education issues such as gender stereotypes.

      • #206571
        Deirdre Maye
        TeachNet Moderator

        Hi Anna,

        Thank you for your reply.

        Playtime in the junior classrooms is where we encounter boy/girl stereotypes. We  should use role-play to help challenge these  gender stereotypes. Using Aistear is an invaluable activity which allows children to play different roles and challenge traditional stereotypes.

        Play time can be used right up to senior classes, which will help challenge these gender stereotypes.

    • #206377
      Gwyn Bhreathnach
      Participant

      I have had the same experiences as other teachers in this course of gender stereotypes from children at a very young age, particularly children when they are starting school. I’ve seen boys wanting to dress up in princess costumes and not being allowed by the other children, and I see it a lot as the children get older- the girls not letting the boys join in skipping games, and likewise the boys not wanting the girls playing football with them on yard.
      I think Aistear is a great means of challenging these gender stereotypes with the teacher modelling and guiding the children on their learning journey. Similarly in a mixed gender school it is important not to focus overly on gender when deciding teams or the spurt that the boys/girls want. Thankfully things are changing and in our school it is a joy to see boys and girls playing together in a game that was traditionally deemed for one or other gender. It does take confidence and a leap of faith for a child to participate in something outside of the traditional gender norm but they will do it in a school where they feel they won’t be bullied or put down for their choices.

      • #206564
        Deirdre Maye
        TeachNet Moderator

        Hi Gwyn,

        Thank you for sharing your experience with us.

        Gender stereotypes can have a profound impact on students, even at a young age. The Aistear programme allows pupils to choose and play with a variety of toys and are not categorised into ‘boys and girls toys ‘ .

        It’s great to hear that change is part of your school culture.

         

    • #206618
      Jamie Owens
      Participant

      This particular scenario happened during my time teaching in China and happened more than once. In the classroom, I have observed a scenario where gender stereotypes were evident. During a group activity, the teacher let the children pick out different roles for themselves. The boys automatically assigned themelves to be the leaders and decision-makers, while the girls were given more passive roles such as note-takers or observers. This perpetuated the stereotype that boys are more assertive and capable of leadership, while girls are better suited for supportive roles.

      This observation highlights the significance of addressing gender stereotypes in the classroom. Development education methodologies can play a crucial role in combatting these stereotypes by promoting inclusivity, challenging biases, and encouraging critical thinking.

      One effective strategy is to incorporate diverse and inclusive narratives into the curriculum. By featuring stories and examples of individuals who break gender stereotypes, students can challenge their preconceived notions and develop a broader understanding of gender roles and capabilities. This can be achieved through the use of literature, historical examples, and real-life stories from different cultures and time periods.

      Furthermore, interactive discussions and activities can create a safe space for students to express their thoughts and challenge gender stereotypes. Engaging in debates, role-playing, and collaborative projects that highlight the strengths and abilities of all genders can help break down stereotypes and foster equality.

      Teachers also have a responsibility to model gender equality in their own behavior and language. By treating all students with equal respect and providing equal opportunities for participation and leadership, educators can demonstrate that gender should not limit one’s abilities or potential.

      In conclusion, development education methodologies provide an opportunity to combat gender stereotypes in the classroom. By integrating inclusive narratives, promoting critical thinking, and modeling equality, we can empower students to challenge and overcome gender biases, fostering a more equitable and inclusive learning environment.

    • #207100
      Lorraine Cleary
      Participant

      For the past few years I have taught younger classes up to First and at these age groups the gender inequality is not as obvious, as I have seen previously in senior classes. However there are many subtle indications that are a challenge to rectify.

      The majority of the class genders mix well but there are some boys who will not play with girls and vice versa but don’t vocalise their reasons. Getting to the bottom of why, can be difficult.
      I’ve noticed some boys, particularly, will not willingly clean up after their own lunch mess or sweep the floors or wash down the tables after art and through discussion its highlighted that boys don’t clean up. That’s not their job.

      I believe following the series of lessons provided by this module, will help to highlight where and why the barriers exist and help me identify the areas we need to work on. The lessons themselves will be enlightening for the children, especially the lesson 2 on identifying and removing stereotypes in likes and dislikes, where boys not playing with girls might find more common ground to move forward. Or Lesson 4 on Gender Roles will open their minds to equality in roles and into a discussion that we have male carers of children in homes, male cleaners and male nurses as well as female engineers and professional soccer players etc.

      Following the series of lessons I would take a suggestion from a participant of this course and bring in SET Teachers into the class to have small mixed/gender group discussions to ensure that every voice is heard equally and hopefully many misconceptions removed.

      We could come up with a class action plan / contract that helps us plan activities for the coming year that, continuously re-enforces gender inequality. So agree a list of jobs that every person takes a turn at without prejudice. That one day per week we randomly select groups of children (equal mix of gender) to play games together in the yard, to show that they can have as much fun with the rest of the class be it boy or girl, rather than always being drawn to a select group of friends.
      But also a regular dedicated slot in the week where we actively plan a series of gender exploring activities Examples are; A series of knitting and/or Needle point sessions. Basic First Aid Skills training where we have patients, nurses and doctors but as we practise the skills the genders must interchange. Also have everyone participate equally in sessions of lego and construction and airplane building, darts tournaments, things traditionally considered boys activities. (I’m sure they will have better suggestions). Their ideas could be incorporated under Art, SPHE or PE lessons. And definitely role playing activities in Drama on a regular basis where children take on the roles not stereotypical for them.

      I would also like to find away to bring the discussion into the children’s homes. Maybe assign homework to investigate their mother’s lives prior to them having children. Some mothers may have given up a job to care for children and their child might see them in a different light, not just their caregiver. Ask them to describe one job in the home that they help their mother do, to make her life easier, and will they keep doing it. We could previously have spoken to parents to encourage them to think of jobs their child might be capable of. As many of the attitudes start at home, maybe we can get the conversation going amongst the children and parents.

    • #207104
      Vivienne Doyle
      Participant

      Being a current teacher in a DEIS school and through past subbing experiences, I believe that the students I taught are more likely to exhibit gender stereotypes. It should be mentioned that tackling this stereotype and ensuring that it doesn’t continue in the future depend heavily on development education.Methodologies used in development education can be extremely effective in eradicating gender stereotypes by encouraging inclusivity, empathy, and critical thinking. I believe that breaking down traditional gender roles through a variety of texts and books from various points of view, as well as through interactive lessons and debates about how gender roles are viewed.

      Some boys and girls learn early on that girls like to play with dolls, like the colour pink, while boys choose macho activities and don’t display emotion. These are a few stereotypes about gender that people might have.Although I believe that gender stereotypes have much improved in some areas, such as males wearing pink clothing., there still seems to be a long way to go in others.I continue to believe that gender stereotypes can be pervasive in classrooms with students of all ages. When examining gender roles during Aistear or free play as early as junior infants stereotypes become obvious.For example, the male student may establish himself in the masculine roles of the builder, or police officer on various occasions, while the female student will take on the role play position of the nurse/waitress/hairdresser.

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