Gender Wars: what does this even mean? by Jessamine Giese

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What a beautiful baby girl – I love her pink clothes! I bet your son is loving superheroes at the moment! Good morning boys and girls! Welcome, ladies and gentleman!

Gender WarsGender stereotyping is prevalent in everyday language; even simple greetings can escape without a person considering the divide that is being created. Research has found children as young as 2 years are able to understand aspects of gender discrimination. By 5 years of age, children can associate toys with specific genders, such as hammers for boys and dolls for girls, and this may challenge their formation of friendships.

Popular media plays a significant role in emphasizing gender stereotypes: stories focusing on pink, princesses and castles versus superheroes and combat, with little middle ground conditions a sense of two opposing sides.

But do gender stereotypes remain a childhood issue? Is gender equality resolved by adulthood? When consulting statistics…

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (2015) reveals the following facts:

  • Men hold the majority of the highest leadership roles in Australia (public and non-public sector)
  • 35% of Commonwealth justices and judges are women
  • 23% of State Supreme Court and Court of Appeal judges are women
  • 3% of mining CEOs are women
  • 4% of Financial and Insurance Services CEOs are women
  • 70% of workers in education and training are women
  • 78% of workers in health care and social assistance are women

Perhaps this is caused by cultural exclusion exercising power; perhaps it is not gender equality we are chasing, but instead gender equity and equal opportunities for all.

We, as educators, parents and stakeholders in children’s education, can contribute to the perceptions of gender: by continuously reflecting on how we (although inadvertently) contribute to a predisposition of gender stereotypes in children. We can acknowledge diversity, seek gender inclusivity and change our daily routines to incorporate comments such as, “Good morning class”, gender neutral toys and experiences and non-fiction stories that portray a sense of community.

Let’s inspire a culture of youth who have self-awareness, independency and confidence to be active discoverers in their world and challenge definitions of what is ‘politically correct’. Let’s provide our children with an education that emphasizes on the process rather than the product. Let’s foster children with real-world experiences and respect for one another.

 

Referenced:

Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2015). Still fewer women in positions of leadership. Retrieved from http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/4125.0~Aug%202015~Media%20Release~Still%20fewer%20women%20in%20positions%20of%20leadership%20(Media%20Release)~10011

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