Gender Respect Project 2013-2016

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

Leave a comment

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.



Leave a comment

Teacher Blog: Gender and Sport

Gender and Sport

Painting 'You have the right to choose'

Painting ‘You have the right to choose’

Y6 girls painting

Y6 girls painting

I spent a few afternoons with 8 children, two from each KS2 year group, planning and designing posters that are now displayed in school. With help from a local artist, I gave the children pictures for inspiration  to base their poster on. These included paintings by Paul Klee, Henri Matisse, Andy Warhol and Bridget Riley.

We discussed how to create different effects, what gender our person may be or if they would be non-gender specific and what messages to include.

These are the posters the children developed:

Y3. Message: Show Respect!

Y3. Message: Show Respect!

Y4. Message: You have the right to choose your sport

Y4. Message: You have the right to choose your sport

Y5. Message: Don’t feel afraid of doing a your usually played by the opposite gender, even if people laugh at you.

Y5. Message: Don’t feel afraid of doing a
your sport. sport usually played by the opposite gender, even if people laugh at you.

Y6. Message: words such as peace,        courage, freedom, trust and strength.

Y6. Message: words such as peace, courage, freedom, trust and strength.

The children showed their posters in a whole school assembly, just before sports day. They explained why they had created their posters and what the messages are that they have chosen. These posters are on display in the hall for all children to see.


While they were creating these posters, I spoke with them about how they felt about boys and girls doing different sports and whether they thought the posters were effective. These are some of their comments:


  • Every sport is free for anyone to do.
  • You can’t just laugh at people for doing different sports.
  • No sport is for a boy or a girl, it’s an equal choice.
  • In secondary schools there is more teasing. They think they are older and smarter.
  • It’s not fair. We know lots of male footballer names but no one knows the names of women football players.
  • It’s like racism but with gender.
  • People expect boys to play football.
  • Boys are rougher than girls. To be rough makes you look really strong. Boys don’t realise that some girls like to be rough too.
  • Football has always been a more popular sport and people prefer to play football because they get paid lots of money for it.
  • Lot’s of people can play football as you only need a ball and some grass.
  • There’s one girl in the rugby club. People treat her the same, she fits in.

How effective are the posters?

  • Sometimes if a boy wants to do a ‘girls’ sport, he would feel worried. So something needs to change. The posters are a good idea to help reduce teasing.
  • It’s a good idea to do the posters, as some people don’t think that a boy would do ballet. If you asked ‘can boys do ballet?’ they would say yes, but they wouldn’t think of boys doing ballet.
  • The posters will help people to think more about the sports that we can do and help us realise that both genders can do any sports.

Evaluations from Y3

Since Y3 has been involved in this project from the beginning, I wanted to get their impressions of the posters and see whether they were pleased with them and thought that they were effective. Here are some of their comments:


  • Let every girl or boy do what they want.
  • Don’t tease other people about what sport they do.

How effective are the posters?

  • I think the dance one was good because it showed how a boy can dance.
  • Good effective messages.
  • I like the glitter. It really makes the message stand out.
  • The Y6s has lots of values. That’s what makes theirs good.
  • They show that boys and girls can do whichever sport they want.
  • It’s a clear message in a stylish way.
  • I think the posters were great because they have a very clear message.
  • I like the idea of a poster with a message on it.
  • I like the part of the poster that says even if you get teased, stay strong.
  • I think the posters are very good because every poster has an important and clear message.
  • They were very good because it should not be girls doing gymnastics. It should be girls and boys doing sports!
  • It’s a fantastic idea. The posters have a really important message that’s very clear.
  • I really love the messages because they attract people.
Discussing the paintings

Discussing the paintings



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.