Gender Respect Project 2013-2016

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

Leave a comment

Teacher Blog: Carol

Teacher Blog

Talking group – secondary

Aim: to start a weekly talking group offering a space for a mixed (age & sex) group to talk in a facilitated group

 Session One: Growing up, Friendship and Gender, 

Ground rules – listen – respect – all equal

Feedback from gender friendship questionnaire

Discussion (Carol – teacher, Carmel –  project volunteer, letters – different students)

Carol – do you have friends of the opposite sex?

Yes cousins

Carol -Is it easier if they are cousins?


S – I had a best friend who was a boy and then he asked me out, and I said no because he was not best looking, but then I did go out with him but it was weird because he knows everything about me so then I dumped him and then he started stalking me and coming into my garden.

A – I used to have friends who were girls but I don’t know.

Carmel – When did it change?

Y7 –  Then people make fun of you – (Discussion about boys not being as nice after that age).

Carmel – Boys, how do you feel about the girls saying you are not as nice as you used to be?

A – Being cool being in the wrong crowd

Boys get mardier

S – We were looking at an old photograph and we all wear very different clothes now but the girls hadn’t really changed, except for the clothes, but the boys are very different and not as nice. – (Continued into a description of one particular boy and his relationship with prescribed drugs).

Carol – Are you still the same person?

  • It’s not cool to be a mama’s boy.
  • Boys don’t want to learn but girls do they want to do well.
  • Are there different pressures?

H – Girls fall out more than boys (P whispered a comment)

  • Boys and girls fight differently – air kissing – violent hugs
  • Discusion of kissing in public – Valentine’s day – embarrassment
  • Sometimes people think they are popular if they are in a relationship. It’s about feeling popular

Joined by A – described a drunk man falling onto another man and hugging him and a computer game and online pressure to start a relationship.

  • Lack of trust in friendships when not sure of the other person’s intentions.

S – My neighbour’s little boy acs like a girl

Plans for next week:

  • Another room with less distraction
  • Tokens for speaking to limit loudest and encourage quietest.
  • Addressing each other not Carol
  • Reminder about boundaries and gossip.
  • Carol to record answers to the three questions we asked this week.
  • Carmel to plan an activity. At what ages do certain behaviours start and stop?

Leave a comment

Teacher Blog: Carol

Nature of and frequency of friendships between girls and boys: survey and intervention
The results from a mixed gender friendship questionnaire delivered to Year 7, 8, 9 and 11 students (aged 11 – 16) showed that on average 2 in 5 of the students surveyed did not have a good friend of the opposite sex (boys and girls).  
Reasons for this stated could be summarised into
  • religious restrictions
  • embarrassment and misunderstanding intentions
  • fear of sexism and violence from boys
  • disliking boy’s attitudes/ not being respected
  • girls having different interests
  • not having shared experiences with the opposite sex
Students cited their friendships coming out of:
  • being stuck up for in a vulnerable situation
  • being able to be honest and one’s self
  • shared opinions (eg. dislike of a teacher!)
  • finding the same things funny
  • playing/chatting together
  • shared experiences, special & everyday
The talking group provides a space for sharing and debating issues of importance to students.  It is mixed sex and includes students across Y7-Y9.  Students agree ground rules and decide democratically topics that they like to discuss but this is not rigid within the session if another topic of interest arises.  The group of 16 is facilitated by two adults (both Philosophy for Children trained).  Some of the outcomes hoped for are:
  • an experience of constructive dialogue
  • new friendship connections
  • space to speak, listen and be listened to in a mixed group.


Leave a comment

P4C Enquiry using ‘Like a Girl’ advert

From Rosie Wilson, Lifeworlds Learning and Primary Teacher:

Philosophy for Children using the Like a Girl advert as a stimulus.

This was the last enquiry with my class as was (when I’d asked them what they wanted to do with me in the last few weeks Philosophy was on the list) and it was great to see their development. It was also the first one where the building went beyond enjoyment in voicing views and respectfully disagreeing to a little edge under everyone’s comments – they all cared a lot about what they were saying to each other, and there was a bit of a girl / boy divide between a few, with others (both girls and boys) really opening up the discussion and thinking.

Discussed / mentioned:

Not all boys think girls are weak

Sports shops do have limited choice. I had to buy boys sports socks – Who says they’re boys? – It said so on the packaging…

Well, girls couldn’t actually play on the professional England football team – Why not? What are you saying about their ability? – I’m just saying some things girls are better at and boys are better at (hottest topic and not really resolved / explored enough)

The questions are here with the chosen one in bold, and it was voted for as much to discuss the assumptions in the question as the question itself.



The children started off in quite a divided fashion but challenged each other really. They focused a lot on physical achievement – football, running etc, and many agreed that girls and boys could achieve equally, although one boy, often the most ‘popular’ in the class, did not, and many set out to challenge him, which they had not done before.

A comment that stuck in my mind from final thoughts, “Well, you know, it’s fine really, if girls want to do whatever, that’s fine, if a boy wants to wear a dress and marry another boy, I just think let people live their life”. This was more accepting / liberal / aware than many of the other comments in the circle, as it is quite a conservative community in some ways.

But it was a great stimulus, and what was so good about it was the filter down into other conversations and learning in the last week or so – we performed a modern version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream which had some female characters commenting on men, and some male characters commenting on women, and these were challenged a little, as were other things, as a result of having that shared language from the enquiry.



Teacher Blog: Primary, Gender and Sport

Gender and Sport

My project so far has consisted of a P4C session with Y3 and Y5 to see what they think about gender and sport. This helped to inform the questions that I chose for my questionnaire, which I did with focus groups from Y2, Y4 and Y6. They were in groups of 4, with 3 groups from each year group; girls, boys and mixed.

As a follow up to the findings from these, I asked my Y3 class what they thought the problem was and what they would like to do to solve it. I then used their ideas to come up with my project.

Part 1: P4C with Y3 and Y5

Stimuli: Clip from Billy Elliott and Bend it like Beckham; images of females and males doing a variety of sports; newspaper articles: female boxing allowed in the Olympics in 2012 for the first time, differences between men’s and women’s gymnastics, Women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to play sport.

Y3 questions:

  1. Why can’t both genders do some sports?
  2. Why do people think boys can’t do girls things and girls can’t do boy things?
  3. Why do we say in some countries people aren’t allowed to do some sports?
  4. Why do people not like boys to do ballet?
  5. How would you feel if someone said you couldn’t do sport anymore?
  6. Why can’t women play every sport?
  7. Why do people not let girls play certain sports?
  8. Why do men and women have different equipment for gymnastics?

Chosen question: Why can’t women play every sport?

Examples of comments:

(G) Girls like shopping, boys like running. This is why some people think that girls can’t play sports.

(G) Some people let girls play, others think boys are stronger and faster so only they can play.

(G) Some girls can be stronger than boys…I think that all boys should think that if they were a girl if they would like it if they were told they couldn’t do this sport. I think everyone should get to choose if they can do it or not.

(B) Men have skill and speed in football. Men are stronger than women…men and ladies are good at dancing. Why don’t boys do girls sports? Girls can play football because they are strong. Women are more into swimming than men. Because women don’t just want to get strong. They want to get fit and healthy as well like boys.

Y5 questions:

  1. Why can’t there be some sports for men, some for women and some for both?
  2. Why aren’t women seen on TV as much as men?
  3. Why do men and women have different categories?
  4. Why do you barely ever hear about women sports people?
  5. Why do men call women’s football girls’ football?
  6. Why do people think that men are better and stronger than women?
  7. Why don’t women have as many opportunities as men?
  8. Why should different genders effect how we play sport?
  9. Why can’t women’s sport be on TV more often?
  10. Why should women be forced to play on women’s teams but not men’s?

Chosen question: Why can’t there be some sports for men, some for women and some for both?

Examples of comments:

(B) You have to practise to get better at sport, regardless of gender.

(B) If women’s rugby was on TV more, more women would want to join in.

(B) I disagree, I think some sports e.g. synchronised swimming, are for girls and some e.g. football, are for boys.

(G) Some people think girls are better than boys, or boys are better than girls in general life. It’s the same for sport.

Part 2: Focus Groups

Questions and summary of findings:

  1. Do you enjoy PE? What is your favourite sport?

All children said they enjoyed PE and did a wide range of different sports.

  1. Do you think girls and boys are equally good at sports/PE? Why?

Boys and girls are better at different sports, sports that they are more suited to because of their physique. However, it’s often more about skill and practice and anyone can do anything if they believe in themselves.

  1. Are there any sports that you think are more for girls or more for boys?

Yes – girls and boys are suited to different sports and enjoy different sports. It is ok for them to do sports that are considered not for their gender, however they may get teased for it. Boys and girls commented on the fact that girls don’t like having balls thrown at them and they don’t want to get muddy or be rough.

  1. Are there any sports you’d like to play but you feel you can’t? Why?

Some sports they can’t play because they haven’t been given the opportunities to play them e.g. skiing, tennis. Some sports they can’t play because they feel they don’t have the correct skills e.g. being strong enough. Some sports they can’t play because they get teased by the opposite sex.

  1. What do you think we can do to encourage girls and boys to play whichever sport they want to?

Children had many ideas including; teaching different sports, stop teasing, assemblies, rotas at lunchtime.

Part 3: Ideas generating

After sharing the results of these focus groups with Y3, they came up with the following ideas:

  • Teaching sports to younger children, discussing gender issues.
  • Lunchtime sports club.
  • After school club.
  • Write a song/poem to persuade children to encourage people to do all sports – for an assembly.
  • Posters with messages to go around school.
  • Read posters in assembly.
  • Rules and facts to go around school, with pictures of different sports.
  • Acrostic poem with a message.
  • Make a website.

Part 4: Intervention

Following discussions with other teachers involved in the project, I decided to go for the posters idea. I have 8 children who are gifted and talented in art to design posters with a message linked to gender, sport and sports day. These will be shown in assembly and the messages will be explained to the children. The key messages we are trying to get across are that it’s ok to do any sport they wish, regardless of their gender, and that it’s not ok to tease people because they have chosen to do a sport normally associated with the opposite gender.

Success Criteria for posters developed by Y3

1.    Title

2.    Pictures – computer, hand

3.    Slogans

4.    Messages to encourage people to be kind to others.

5.    Messages to encourage people to ‘give it a go’ = try other sports.

6.    Information/facts about the sport.

7.    Information about/images of sports legends.

8.    Easy to understand, makes sense.

9.    Flaps, pop-ups

10.  Our values: cooperation, responsibility, teamwork, thoughtfulness, respect.

Examples of messages

1.     Don’t tease people.

2.    Don’t be mean if a boy wants to do gymnastics.

3.    Don’t tease people who do different sports to you.

4.    You have the right to do any sport you choose.

5.    Don’t judge other people by their sport.

6.    Anyone can do any sports they want to.

7.    Be fair to girls and boys in sport.

8.    Let girls and boys join in.

Leave a comment

Teacher Blog: Year 7 Session 1: Exploring Gender Awareness

Year 7 Session 1: Exploring Gender Awareness

My aim was to try and establish what the Y7s actually knew about the role of gender in society.  I used a stimulus that I thought was going to lead the students into exploring gender.  I wanted to keep it organic and not lead the students too much to the subject.  The plan was to learn by discovery without any prompting about being a part of a research project.  However, the first P4C session produced questions that were philosophical but I feared would take us far away from gender.

On the next day, I wanted to dig deeper into the questions.  The students had already created a sort of spider diagram which used pairs of opposites to suggest multiple questions.  I did not want to dismiss what they spent the previous lesson developing so I tried another approach to get us back on the gender track.  The students were entrusted to watch a video and highlight all of the questions that they could link to the themes in the video.

Students worked in small groups and actively discussed the connections they could make between the questions they created based on a different stimuli and found links to our new stimulus.  The topic of gender was more apparent in our journey.  The students eventually voted for “Why don’t we accept other people?”

Many of the students are new to P4C and required me to facilitate more than normal.  As I facilitated, I took notes as they explored their big question.  Please remember that these students are just settling into their form and gaining confidence in speaking/listening. Although the notes will look a bit fragmented, I think you can clearly see some light bulb moments from the session.

The Big Question: Why don’t we accept other people?


Strict way of what people should be

Singled out, people just got to accept

Different, WW2, singled the Jews out

Different, can’t accept

People are scared to accept

We are all the same, but we have different hair colour

Gay, not right to be

Make fun of other people and some people have an obsession about it


How we see ourselves and others


Found out for yourself what normal is and can make a new you

Huge geeks get better jobs

Labels-we are told by adults and what they believe rubs off

We copy other people and we are just doing what we are told

We shouldn’t copy other people because we don’t know how we will end up

We are influenced by TV, environment, photos, internet

Ask the truth

We have our own soul, find out who you really are

I don’t play football like the other boys and I felt lonely

But individuality makes us exciting

If every girl was into hair extensions we wouldn’t have women in sports

Male hairdressers are labelled

Label your sexuality

**In response to the ‘I don’t play football comment’…another student asked whether as a good leader, could he persuade the sporty boys to do non-boy type activities.

Pink for girls

Blue for boys

Should girls play with boys’ toys?

My mum could not be a mechanic because she was a female

In primary school boys like pink and purple

For the plenary, I asked the students to respond to a question that asked whether gender determined how successful you would become in the society (or something similar).  Their responses varied from:

“Yes because there are more manly jobs and also men get more money from work.” (boy 1)

“I think a boy is treated better than girls because girls can get raped boys can’t girl are gauged on their looks.” (girl 1)

“No being a girl has nothing to do with how successful you are in the future.” (girl 2)

“Despite what society would have you believe, it does and it will always be like that because of how people view the world.” (boy 2)

“It doesn’t matter whether you are a boy or a girl it depends on what you are good at and you enjoy.” (boy 3_

“I think it does but I honestly think it shouldn’t.” (girl 3)

“No because everyone is different and it isn’t our fault that people can’t accept it.” (girl 4)

“Yes because there is a lot of fuss around the type of job single minded people think genders should have.  If a woman applied for a job as a mechanic a lot of people would judge that person. They might be scared of being judged.” (boy 4)

“Yes because people think boys are strongest than girls so that would affect the future for example a policeman/women there are more policemen than policewomen!” (girl 5)

Now that I have been able to access how much the students are aware of gender issues, I can now develop another P4C session which taps into awareness of career inequality.