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Challenging Gender Stereotypes

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Tia Chambers

on 27 February 2014

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Transcript of Challenging Gender Stereotypes

Challenging Gender Binaries and Stereotypes
Gender stereotyping and oppression based on gender has been a shifting issue within the educational community over the last 40 years (Friedricksen, 2001)

Teaching all genders equitably has been an area of research and professional development since the 1980s and continues to be seen as an area for growth among teachers (Friedricksen, 2001; Duffy et al, 2001; Martino & Kehler, 2007).

The classroom is a ''gendered space'' in which gender is enacted, corrected, and perpetuated on a daily basis (Wallace, 2007; Kumashiro, 2009, as cited in McEntarfer, 2012).

Robinson argues that "children...play an active role in the construction of their own gendered and sexual identities and those of other children, often taking on policing roles" (2005, 184).
Unit Overview
Each lesson includes an experience or story, a critical discussion, and a consolidating activity.

Age group: K-3

Duration: 4 lessons, 1-2 hr each

Day One: What is Gender?
Experience: class will visit a toy store or look at images of toy store interiors and advertisements.
Experience: The class will do a picture walk of the book 10,000 Dresses by Marcus Ewert

Activity: Students will create a chart individually: "What I observe, what I wonder, and what I infer about this book"

The teacher will ask students to share their thinking about the book's images and will create a master OWL chart for the class about gender & the book
An intervention for the primary classroom
Learning Objectives

Day 2: Where do stereotypes come from?
To examine gender stereotypes and gender oppression in age-appropriate ways
To encourage students to share their experiences and begin to think critically about society's prescribed gender norms
To extend students' critical thinking to engage with issues of anti-oppression in many ways
Author Unknown. (2012). 12 Children's books that challenge traditional gender roles. Institute
for Humane Education. http://humaneconnectionblog.blogspot.ca/2012/06/12-childrens-picture-books-that.html

Birner, A. (2012). 10,000 Dresses (2008) by Marcus Ewert: Book review. Inquiry into
Education. http://www.inquiryintoeducation.com/10000-dresses-2008-by-marcus-ewert/

Bollow-Tempel, M. (2011). It’s OK to be neither: Teaching that supports gender variant children. Rethinking Schools, 26(1).

Duffy, J., Warren, K., & Walsh, M. (2001). Classroom Interactions: Gender of Teacher, Gender
of Student, and Classroom Subject. Sex Roles, 45(9/10).

Ewert, M. (2008). 10,000 Dresses. Seven Story Press. New York: NY.

Frawley, T. (2005). Gender Bias in the Classroom: Current Controversies and Implications for Teachers.
Childhood Education, 81(4).

Fredericksen, E. (2000). Muted colors: Gender and classroom silence. Language Arts, 77(4), 301-.

Kumashiro, K. (2000). Toward a theory of anti-oppression education. Review of Educational Research, 70(1), 25-53.

Martino, W. & Kehler, M. (2007). Gender based literacy reform: a Question of challenging or recuperating gender binaries.
Canadian Journal of Education, 30(2), 406-431.

Munsch, R. (1992). The Paper Bag Princess. Annick Press. Toronto: ON.

Robinson, K. (2005). Doing Anti-homophobia and Anti-heterosexism in Early Childhood Education: moving beyond
the immobilising impacts of ‘risks’, ‘fears’ and ‘silences’. Can we afford not to? Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 6(2).

Schein, Velvet. (2013). “Gender Splendor” professional development workshop. The Grove Alternative School, TDSB.

Wallace, J. (2007). Inclusive schooling and gender. Alberta Teachers Federation. Professional Development. Retrieved from

Children who are seen as outside of the "typical" gender norms face significant barriers both in and out of the classroom (McEntarfer, 2012)
images from http://www.scilogs.com/gender-is-not-sexy/math-is-a-girl-thing/
Class Discussion:
What do you notice about the way the store is organized?
Which part of the store is meant for girls? How do you know?
Which part of the store is meant for boys? How do you know?
What kind of toys do you like to play with at home?
The teacher will explain what a stereotype is. The class will then create a list of stereotypes based on the gender binary:
Reviewing each item on the list, the class will talk about if it is true for them, and if there are any exceptions they can think of to each stereotype


Is there anything on this list that you like to do even though you are not a boy? a girl?

Are these things only for boys? only for girls?

Where do you think these expectations come from?

are tough
like playing rough
need lots of exercise
like to wear blue, green
don't wear dresses
don't play with dolls
are gentle
like to play with animals
like dolls
wear pink
are polite
are quiet
Consolidating Activity:

Draw a picture of yourself doing something you like to do. Does it fit into a stereotype for your gender?
Activity adapted from Birner, 2010
Day 4: Being Outside of the Gender Box

Experience: the class will look through magazines, newspapers, and books to find images both depicting and contradicting gender stereotypes. students will work in mixed gender groups to complete this task, and will collect images on chart paper to compare to the original stereotypes list..

Groups will paste the images inside and outside of the stereotype box on their chart paper accordingly.

Each group will talk about what they found to the rest of the class.

Discussion Questions:
Was it easy to find images that fit stereotypes?
Was it easy to find images that didn't fit the stereotypes?
Why do you think it was easy/hard?
What surprised you about the images you found?
Where do you think our ideas about how boys and girls should act/dress/be come from?
Do you think that the media (books, magazines, newspapers, tv) reinforce these stereotypes or contradict them?

Day 3: What are our ideas about gender?
Experience: the class will read the books 10,000 Dresses (Ewert, 2008) and The Paper Bag Princess (Munsch, 1992).

Class discussion will center on what the students notice about the books' central characters. the class will discuss what it means to not fit into the sterotypes of a given gender, with the teacher reinforcing the message that it is ok to be "outside" of the sterotype "boxes" that society has created.

Students will have the opportunity to share a time that they felt inside and/or outside of the "gender box" by stepping into boxes labeled "boy" and "girl" in front of the classroom.
Consolidating activity:

Draw a picture and or write about a time that you were inside or outside of the stereotype box. How did it feel?
Class work will be shared with the school by being displayed on a bulletin board.
Optional Extention Text: It's OK To Be Different (Parr, 2009)
Teacher will invite students to share their work and emphasize that it is OK to be inside or outside of the "box"
Book suggestions from Birner, 2012; Institue for Humane Education, 2012.
Adapted from Schein, 2013.
Closure activities suggested by Bollow-Tempel, 2011
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