Gender Respect Project 2013-2016

Aiming to help children and young people to understand, question and challenge gender inequality and violence.

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CRESST Peer Mediators’ Conference

Kathryn and Heather ran a Gender Respect workshop at the CRESST conference for peer mediators on 7th January, 2016. We ran the workshop 3 times with 3 different groups of children in Y5 and Y6 from 10 schools in South Yorkshire.

Our aims were:

  • Explore what it’s like to be a boy or a girl in South Yorkshire
  • Identify attitudes we have about boys and girls
  • Think as peer mediators how we can make it fairer.

We used the same images of sports, careers and emotions that we had used in the scoping study as stimulus for discussions. We used continuum lines with agree and disagree about a view or attitude that emerged to generate further thought and discussion.

DECSY Gender Respect (16)

These are some of the attitudes that we drew out from the lively discussions:


  • Many girls want to play football at play time but don’t because boys are too rough.
  • When we asked boys ‘Is this true?’ some replied ‘Yes, because we’re more competitive than girls.’
  • Football is a boys’ sport. Boys are tough and can be aggressive.
  • Girls are not as good at sport.
  • Girls can be stronger than boys and they can play football as well as boys.
  • Some boys like dancing and are good at it.
  • Boys can be embarrassed to be friends with a girl.
  • Some schools had girls only football at play time. Other girls said they did not want this. They wanted to play with boys but for boys not to be so rough and obey the rules.


Strong views were expressed about equality, that men and women should be able to do every job.

  • Boys and girls can do every job.
  • It’s good to see a woman pilot and men looking after children.
  • Usually women do childcare. They have carried the baby so they are more in touch. However, men can look after children too.
  • Comparisons with the past. Men used to go out to work and women stayed at home. Now more women go out to work.


  • You sometimes see women being angry, but they’ve got good reasons to be angry. They do not get equal pay and are often treated unfairly and not with respect.
  • It’s unusual to see men cry but they all agreed that it’s acceptable for them to cry.
  • Boys and men act really tough. If they cry, they think they’ll look weak.

We asked the children: ‘If you had super magical powers and had one wish, to make things fairer and kinder between men and women, girls and boys what would that be?’

  •  Girls and boys can play together
  • Don’t judge people by if they’re black or white
  • Girls are the same as boys and everyone is treated fairly
  • Girls and boys are in the same team in any sport
  • Make girls confident to do sports
  • Make more jobs accessible to different genders
  • Freedom of choice
  • Change attitudes
  • To make sure men and women get treated equally and have the same rights
  • Boys and girls shouldn’t judge each other by what they look like
  • Everyone having the same opportunities
  • That men and women should share their feelings
  • To make every man, woman and child get along so everyone should stop bombing and attacking people.
  • For people to aim for their dreams

Finally, we asked them ‘As a peer mediator, what could you do to make it fairer?’

  • Talk to the school in an assembly, about genders getting along with being friends and making sure you are able to do what you want to do. E.g. being able to play football if you are a girl.
  • Don’t judge a book by its cover
  • To make sure you’re not taking sides
  • Don’t judge people by their gender
  • Giving people the opportunity to play
  • Make girls try to play sport and not make boys make fun of them
  • Play together fairly. Treat people respectfully. Practise together.
  • Collaborate more
  • Listen to other people’s opinion
  • Encourage people to believe in themselves and do what they want with their life
  • Use encouragement to build their confidence
  • Make a rota (that’s clear) for girl’s football on a certain day, same with boys, ‘We have a rota but whenever I look at the football pitch and there are always boys, the same boys.’

DECSY Gender Respect (23)

Our reflections

We really enjoyed the workshops and felt very encouraged by the opinions of the young people. We realised we had the benefit of being with a selected group of hand-picked 10 and 11 year olds, trained in listening and mediation. The children were forthcoming in their views and able to discuss their differences. They had strongly held views about the importance of equality – between men and women, boys and girls, black and white. This held true for occupations, emotions and relationships. We were very interested to hear that some girls and boys did not like the banter about ‘Girls are best. No! Boys are best.’ which they said was very prevalent in their schools. ‘Because we are all human beings. We want to be treated like human beings.’ However, in the everyday experience of playground football, girls expressed their reality of exclusion. This held true across all 10 schools represented. It may be boys had not heard this before and discussions like this could make a difference, especially as peer mediators are mostly engaged because of conflicts at play times. However, some boys’ view that they were more competitive than girls seemed insightful, and may reflect an underlying culture.

Thoughts for the future of the Gender Respect project: We were encouraged that some children spontaneously suggested holding an assembly on gender equality. We hope their teachers will be able to support them in this. This idea may be developed at the young people’s conference later this month. All the children said they would love to come to a Gender Respect student conference if there was one in the future.



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Teacher Blog: Abbey

Gender and Careers

The main thing I found from the questionnaire was that pupils in my school had a very gendered understanding of job roles. Almost all pupils believed household roles, such as cleaning, cooking and childcare should be undertaken by women and that women should not work. There were some cases were pupils believed specific jobs, namely medicine and law enforcement, were unsuitable for women and some, such as teaching, were unsuitable for men. Despite this, most girls aspired to have a career. However, this seemed to be a belief held at the same time as the belief that they would need to undertake the roles described above, and that they would definitely have children. Often, the girls had more aspirational aims for work (in terms of traditional views of aspirational roles i.e. well paid and highly qualified). The primary career options for the boys were professional footballer, taxi driver or shop owner.

To address this I planned a number of sessions culminating in an equal opportunities job fair, at which women and men would represent roles not traditional for their gender. In the end, my time was so wholly consumed with the admin of the job fair that this became the sole focus.

The job fair, however, was a great success. The children were enthused and engaged and their understanding, particularly about police officers, was successfully challenged. Many children expressed the fact that their understanding had been altered and almost all children said that they would like to have one of the roles that they learned about.

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Teacher Blog: Kathryn

Gender and Work : Evaluation of project

I asked the children to re-do the questionnaire (full results can be found here )done at the beginning to see whether their ideas had changed.

Key things to note:

  • Comparing the percentages from February, the boys have stayed exactly the same.
  • There is a higher percentage of girls wanting to do non-stereotypical jobs and a higher percentage of girls wanting to do gender-neutral jobs, and therefore less wishing to do gender stereotypical jobs.
  • However, it must be remembered that February was data for 2 classes, and July was only 1 class as only 1 class has had all of the interventions. Also, the choice of whether a job is gender stereotypical is subjective.
  • Overall, I have noticed that children have got more knowledge about what types of jobs they could have, as the results in July are much more specific and there is a greater variety of job choices.

I asked them to fill in an evaluation form about the whole project. These were the questions and a summary of the results (click here for full results):

  1. How much did you enjoy the following activities?

Rate them from 1 to 5 (1 = not at all, 5 = enjoyed it a lot)

  1 2 3 4 5
Questions about graphs that showed how many men and women do certain jobs. 4 4 13 3 6
P4C using images of men and women doing non-stereotypical jobs. 5 7 5 3 9
Liz from WEST coming in 2 2 5 8 12
Research about your future careers 2 2 5 8 10


  1. Which is your favourite type of activity? (rate them 1 to 5 with 1 being your least favourite and 5 being your most favourite)
  1 2 3 4 5
Looking at graphs 8 6 6 6 3
P4C 10 2 5 4 8
Visitors 5 4 2 7 12
Internet research 3 5 3 6 11
Questionnaires 2 1 12 4 10
  1. What have you learned from our work about jobs and gender stereotypes?

Responses were all about how men and women can do any job that they wish too. Some children spoke about following your dreams and that the only person stopping you is yourself. My favourite quote was from one girl who said ‘I would tell my children to follow your goals and respect your dreams. I would say the future belongs in the hands of those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.’ 

  1. If you were a teacher, what would you do to teach children about jobs and gender stereotypes?

This question was answered in 2 ways. Some children thought about how they would teach and some thought about what they would teach. The ‘how’ were all methods that we have used already in this project, with the addition of venn diagrams. The ‘what’ were similar to the responses for question 3.

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Teacher Blog: Kathryn

Gender and Work: P4C around gender and work stereotypes

I reminded the children of all of the activities we have done during the year related to gender and work. I asked the children to use these as stimuli and to come up with a philosophical question that they would like to discuss. These were the questions they came up with:

  1. Do you think that boys and girls should have the same responsibilities within the same job?
  2. Why do people think that there are jobs for boys and jobs for girls?
  3. Do you think that males or females prefer to work with humans or animals and why?

The chosen question was number three and these were some of the children’s responses:

‘Both could help humans or animals.’

‘It’s not fair if it’s just boys that get to do 1 job.’

‘It shouldn’t be one or another. They (males/females) should work with who they prefer to (humans/animals).’

‘I think males prefer to work with humans and females prefer to work with animals.’

‘My personal choice would be to work with animals rather than humans. I’m not sure if that’s because I’m a girl.’

‘I think women prefer to work with children and babies rather than adults. Women work with people with needs e.g. old people.’

‘Some people don’t like working with humans. Some people don’t like working with animals.’

‘I prefer to work with humans because it is easier to communicate with them. Both males and females like to communicate with people.’

This was an interesting discussion that followed on from looking at graphs of which professions are more female/male dominated. We had agreed that there are more females in caring professions but the consensus of this discussion seemed to be that it didn’t make a lot of difference if they were male or female as to whether they would chose to work with humans or animals.


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Teacher Blog: Kathryn

Gender and Work: Visit from WEST

We invited in Liz Kettle from WEST (Women in Engineering, Science and Technology) to share her experiences with the children.


We showed this Newsround clip about WEST to get the children thinking about their future jobs.

We chose some children to dress up as fire fighters, police officers, red cross volunteers, builders, formula one drivers and doctors and asked the children to stand on a continuum line as to whether they thought the job was just for boys, girls or somewhere in the middle. The children mostly stood in the middle for all jobs, recognising that anyone can do any job.

WEST visit1 WESTvisit2

We looked at where there are real life stories of females working in trade jobs. We discussed if children had experience of female builders/plumbers etc and quite a few said they had. We talked about what job the children would like to do.


The children really enjoyed the WEST: We can booklet.

I had thought it would be too young for them (they are Y3s), so had planned for them to design their own page for a similar booklet for Y1s. However, they enjoyed the games, activities and especially the stickers!

We carried a follow up activity from WEST in the computing suite:

Children did a quiz to find out which job they could be suitable for in the future:

Children then researched what they would need to do to get that job and what the job is like:

Evaluation of WEST (carried out a few weeks later)

I asked them three questions about the visit from WEST. Children stood on a continuum line to show how they felt about the question. The questions were:

  1. Did you enjoy the activity?



2.  Are you more aware of jobs and gender stereotypes?


3. What have you learned?

‘If you have a dream, follow it.’

‘Don’t care what other people say.’

‘Go where your mind takes you.’

‘You can do any job without anyone stopping you.’

‘The only person stopping you is yourself.’

‘If you want to do something, go for it.’

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Teacher Blog: Rebecca

Year 7 lesson on ‘men’s jobs and women’s jobs’

As part of our Year 7 careers topic I trialled a very simple activity where students were asked to sort a set of different jobs into a Venn diagram of ‘jobs for women’, ‘jobs for men’ or ‘both’. Initially there was a bit of confusion and most students said that it was a bit silly because it was obvious that people could do whichever job they wanted to now. Whilst I appreciated their awareness of anti-discrimination laws I wanted to scratch below the surface of their response so I asked them to think about stereotypes in careers (it might be an idea to cover in a previous lesson what a stereotype is- my students are great at spotting them now, ‘Miss, that’s a stereotype, that is!’) and traditionally which jobs were more suited to men and women.

And then the stereotypes came out; in abundance.

‘Women can’t work in construction, they aren’t any good at screwing things’

‘It’s too hard for them, they aren’t strong enough’

‘Men just aren’t any good with children, it’s a bit weird for them to be a nursery teacher’

‘Women are more caring and nurturing’

‘Women can’t fight in the army’

‘Male nurses are all gay’

‘There’s no way I’d let a man cut my hair (boy)’

Then we had a discussion to break down some of these stereotypes. Where did these ideas come from? Could they think of any exceptions to these ideas? I think this is crucial in breaking down stereotypes, if they can think of examples from their own lives that go against the assumptions. We talked about the skills and qualities needed to do each job and the type of person you’d have to be to be a good nurse, childcare worker, builder etc and, to some extent, they agreed that anyone from any gender could have those qualities. They still weren’t very convinced that men could be caring and nurturing though. We discussed why it was ok to have a male barber but not a male hairdresser (what’s the difference?!) and how from an early age the toys children play with prepare them for gendered careers and they started saying things like this:

‘We just don’t see many male nurses or women in construction’

‘It’s not normal because it’s really weird to see it’

‘Well, maybe it should be shown more on TV or something’

and then, my hero moment:

‘Miss, my uncle’s a nurse and he’s not gay’

Which is probably the statement that had the most impact all lesson.

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Teacher Blog: Kathryn

Gender and Work

I am looking at children’s opinions around gender and work. We have collated and analysed data from children’s parents and from the Government.

Session 1: Baseline

Questionnaires were sent home to find out what jobs their friends and families have and who does the housework. The results were shared with the class and children had to create a bar chart showing who did the most housework.

Results: many stereotypical jobs and more women than men did the housework.

Children were also shown a list of jobs and asked to choose male, female or both for who they think of when they think of that job.

Jobs: doctor, nurse, teacher, scientist, builder, engineer, electrician, secretary, politician, shop assistant.

Results: most children chose both for most jobs.

Obvious exceptions were electrician and builder = more male and nurse = more female.

Session 2: Intervention: Women at Work

Using graphs and data from the House of Commons Document (April 2014) Women in Public life, the Professions and the Boardroom children had to read and analyse the information, answering questions about it. We discussed which jobs had more females and which had less. The professions we looked at were primary and secondary education, NHS, police and armed forces. We generally found that the number of women is increasing in these professions. The graphs also showed that there are more women than men in primary education and some NHS jobs (nurses, midwives, health visitors, scientific, therapeutic and technical). Some of these results were a surprise to the children, although when they thought of their own primary school, they recognised that there are more women than men.

We also looked at Women in the labour market: A report by the Office for National Statistics, September 2013.

Some key points are:

  • Rising employment for women.
  • More men over 22 years old are employed than women.
  • Men tend to work in jobs which pay more than women.
  • More women are employed within caring and leisure jobs.

Session 3: Questionnaire

Following the graph analysis, I asked the children to fill in this questionnaire:

  1. If you could choose up to 3 jobs to do when you’re older, what would they be?
  2. What do you think you need to do to get that job?
  3. Is there anything that might stop you from doing your dream job?
  4. Do you think there are more females or males that do your dream job?
  5. Would you be happiest working with people mostly of the same gender, different gender or a mix?

Results: Children mainly wished to do gender stereotypical jobs (especially boys), but felt that they would be happiest working with both boys and girls. Girls thought of more barriers to jobs than boys.