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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Gender Workshop at CRESST Peer Mediators’ Conference

The Gender Respect project was involved for the third year in CRESST’s annual Peer Mediators’ Conference with ten Sheffield primary schools. For a short film of the conference click on the image.

Screen shot 2017-03-21 at 17.01.41

 

Helen and Heather ran three 50-minute workshops for all the children with the aims of

  • exploring what it’s like to be a boy or girl in South Yorkshire in 2017
  • looking at the attitudes and assumptions people have about boys and girls;
  • considering how these thoughts may affect their peer mediation work

The children engaged readily in discussion about gender equality and their comments were very similar to previous years and to the Scoping Study carried out by the Gender Respect project in 2013.

When asked at the beginning whether there were any issues in their schools relating to gender, every group identified a problem with girls being excluded by boys from football with general agreement from many of the children including the boys: ‘Boys are reckless and don’t pass to girls’. Yet when we discussed this further most of the children told us that girls could be just as good as boys at football and it was only because ‘boys play football more’ that they ‘can be better’. With one group we had a lively agree / disagree line from a statement by one of the children that ‘professional football should have mixed teams’. Children stood along the line presenting strong arguments at either end for why this would advantage or disadvantage women. None of the children suggested that it would ruin the game or spoil it for men.

The discussion about jobs and occupations prompted by some photographs of people in non-stereotypical roles prompted surprise from many of the children particularly at female builders and pilots and men involved in childcare. Most of the children said that they hadn’t seen women builders or pilots:

‘When you think of a pilot you think it would be a man, and staff are women.’

‘You don’t see girls playing with planes and pretending to be a pilot.’

‘Really excited when I saw a female pilot on board, as it made me feel like I could do anything.’

Since a number of the children were doubtful whether men were capable of childcare we had another agree / disagree line with the statement:

‘Men are not good enough to take care of babies’

Agree   Disagree
Don’t put enough work in There’s nothing wrong but they need to know they can Dad looks after baby sister
Women want to Men can’t deal with it as well They can learn to look after their babies

The children’s wishes at the end of the session displayed a heartfelt belief that there should be equality:

‘I wish that boys and girls all believed they can do anything they want, e.g., girl  –  football, or boy – ballerina.’

‘I think that boys should pass in football and understand that girls are equal to boys.’

‘I wish that girls and boys would get along together, work together and play together. I wish they could share and play together. I would help them share.’

‘I wish that girls and women would be expected to do as much or as little as boys and men. For example, in football games, rock-climbing, dancing, being pilots and many more, and get paid equally for the quality of their work. For example, a male footballer who plays for Sheffield and scores three goals every game should be paid as much as a woman footballer who plays for Sheffield and scores three goals every game. And the same with boys doing things you normally see the girls doing.’

Although in order to explore gender inequality we had to identify perceived differences between girls and boys  some of the children were aware of the problem of naming girls and boys as separate and opposite in the language they used in their wishes:

‘Whatever gender you are, you can do everything.’

‘Any person can do any job or play any role regardless of their gender.’

 


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Gender Respect Pupil Conference: Primary Workshop

In the primary workshop, the pupils were shown a series of images and phrases showing stereotypical and non-stereotypical images of jobs, emotions and sports. They were asked to choose one that they felt interested in. We had some great discussions about women in the army, boys dancing, men and women playing football and boys crying. The phrase ‘You throw like a girl!’ proved to be an interesting one too, with one boy pointing out that this was a compliment as girls throw very well!

pri 1

We then did a continuum line with ‘agree’ and ‘disagree’ for the following statements:

‘Boys are embarrassed to do dance.’

‘Boys are all good at DIY.’

 

There was an interesting gender split with the dance, with the boys saying that they would not be embarrassed to do dance. The general feeling about DIY was that some boys are good at DIY but some certainly are not!

 

Next we thought about what was good about being a boy/girl/either. Here are some of their thoughts:

Girls: dance, being smart, people don’t judge you when you cry, you can wear trousers and skirts.

Boys: Straightforward, self-confident, being smart, dance, nerd, exercise, maths.

Either: long and short hair, ability to do sport, sensible, make up.

 

We discussed the pressures and difficulties of being a boy/girl and wrote them on post it notes around an outline of a body. These included;

 

‘Boys get teased for dancing.’

‘It’s harder for girls to do football because they’re not as good as boys.’

‘Girls should get the right amount of money for doing the same job.’

‘Some boys think that they’re superior to everyone else.’

‘Boys find it hard to cry in front of other people.’

‘In other countries, boys go to school and girls have to stay at home and work.’

Pri 2

They then ranked these pressures from most to least important, using a diamond 9 shape.

pri 4

Using these ideas, the pupils worked with their schools to create an action plan of something that they felt needed addressing in school. 2 groups wished to create a play to act out in assembly, looking at respect for one another and challenging teasing. The 3rd group wished to organise a dance competition to encourage more boys to have a go at dance. We look forward to hearing about the success of their ideas.

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Comments from the teachers:

‘The day was a great opportunity for children to meet others from different schools and outside the authority of Sheffield. They didn’t know each other and yet soon started to share their ideas. The performances/ presentations were meaningful and pupil led. Our school council members have also chosen to be ambassadors and wish to champion respect for the school. They want to address attitudes they see towards female dinner staff from children and also encourage other pupils to challenge controlling behaviour when a child is told by another child they can’t join in because of gender, race or age. They want to start with an assembly and posters and will meet weekly. It was interesting that they choose an area in which staff at school have previously discussed but haven’t had an opportunity to raise with the children. I feel that they can have a real impact with this work.’

Stephen

 

‘I found the day really exciting as the children were so interested and had such good ideas. It gave me lots of hope for good things happening in the next generation and I can’t wait to hear what happens in the schools.’

Abbey


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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:

Sports:

  • 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.

Careers:

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.

Emotions:

  • 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

Roller Derby

Sheffield Steel Roller Girls is a local roller derby team. Roller derby is a full contact sport played on roller skates. It is possibly the most inclusive sport out there and has been praised for the way it allows girls to see athleticism in women of all shapes and to allow girls to play aggressive sports. They have recently created a junior league, allowing their positive message to reach a whole new generation of girls at an age where sports can often be a minefield of negativity.

See their website for more information:

Junior League


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Teacher Blog: Carol

Debate Club

Week 2 (5 males, 14 females)

Question: Do we need the women’s equality party?

Responses:

  • It’s very exclusive to have a women only party.
  • Normal political parties should have more women. Women need to be more assertive & stand up for themselves in politics.
  • Women have some different concerns to men, for example men just think about war or business and women think about the NHS.

Concern about:

  • Unequal pay
  • The way women are shown in the media particularly sport
  • Unequal divide of labour at home

Stereotypes:

  • Expectations start early at school.
  • There are gender stereotypes: men do physical jobs e.g. electrician. Nurses are female and doctors are male. There are different male and female roles at home.
  • Women are limited by having to look after kids, where as men have their work as their main focus.
  • Women are not strong enough and feel intimidated in male dominated fields.
  • Concern from a boy about males being expected to be more violent and being treated unfairly as a result.
  • From the ‘olden days’, men were always taught to be a gentleman and to look after women as if women needed looking after. This could be why women may feel less confident.

Media:

  • In adverts, women are mainly seen as looking nice and doing proper jobs.
  • Girls & boys do separate PE and women’s sport gets very little coverage. There are not many role models.
  • Positive examples: the Virgin campaign shows women in sport and the ‘This Girl Can’ campaign.


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Teacher Blog: Kathryn

Y4 P4C about Gender

Stimulus: images from Google (search ‘gender stereotypes’)

Chosen question: Why do people think that there are things just for girls and just for boys?

‘If you saw a Barbie, a sister might not want to play but a brother might. If a boy wanted something girly, they might want Barbie.’

‘Dolls have pink accessories and packaging. Blue is for boys. I think more girls like pink.’

‘Boys and girls should be treated the same. I don’t think it makes any difference if boys and girls like different toys. They should have what they want.’

‘Boys might not want a cricket set, but a sporty girl might.’

‘Girls and boys are treated differently. Girls like pink and boys like blue. I don’t want pink frilly clothes; it’s hard when I go shopping.’

‘Girls might like playing with Xbox. My brother sometimes plays girls’ games.’

‘Girls shouldn’t say ballet dancing is only for girls – boys can do it too.’

‘If you went to a boy shop and you wanted a football, it wouldn’t be fair if dad said no.’

‘There is no difference between girls and boys – they should like whatever they want. They should be able to play with whatever they want.’

‘My friend’s mum is good at sports. I have a sticker of ‘My Little Pony’ on Xbox. It doesn’t matter what you like, just be yourself.’

‘I don’t always like girls’ clothes. Girls should have the right to pick boys’ stuff. It’s the same for boys.’

‘I think boys would feel left out if they were treated like that (not allowed to do ballet). There shouldn’t be such thing as a tomboy and no such thing as girl and boy things.’

‘I like parcours. I wanted a bike for my birthday, but I didn’t want a ‘girly’ one with hearts and kisses. Boys’ bikes are much better.’

‘My cousins dress up. The boys dress up in dresses and make up. Girls sometimes put boys’ clothes on.’

‘A boy’s favourite colour can be purple/pink. A girl’s favourite colour can be blue etc.’

‘My brother used to like wearing princess clothes.’

‘When you go into Tesco’s, I don’t think girls and boys stuff should be separate.’

‘Boys might like Barbie but others might laugh.’

‘Girls like gymnastics. Boys like boys’ things – it shouldn’t be like that.’

‘Why should boys like Barbie? That’s for girls!’

‘I disagree about tomboys. Some people think that boys and girls things are separate. It depends on people’s thinking – if they believe there are separate girls and boys things or not.’

‘Barbie is not just for girls, just because they have long hair and dresses. You can get boy ones too.’

‘I used to have a friend who wore a pink frilly dress and her brother wore a dress and a wand. My friend went to a girls’ dance school but her brother wasn’t allowed to go.’

‘I like football and girls to do. Boys might like ballet or gymnastics.’

‘I have a t-shirt with pink on it. My mum likes blue. My sister plays football.’

‘I think there should be a mix-up in shops with toys and clothes. I think there should be no such thing as a tomboy; it could be a boy or a girl. You should get what you want.’


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Teacher Blog: Kathryn

Thinking about Gender: Y3

Following a session on Commedia Dell’Arte, as part of our One World Week work on Italy, we thought about the roles that men and women play in the theatre. I gave the children 2 sheets of paper, one with the word ‘boy’ and one with the word ‘girl’. I asked them to write down anything that they associated with being a girl or a boy.

Comments

Boy:

  • Boys can put make up on if they’re dressing up as a girl.
  • Boys like football, rugby, basketball and video games.
  • Boys can be cheeky and sneaky.
  • Karate, tennis, hockey, acting, watching TV, singing, running, sewing, hair gel, football, cars, rugby, racing.
  • In the olden times, only men were allowed to act.
  • Some boys like football, rugby and playing tag.

Girl:

  • Girls and boys don’t have to do separate sports.
  • Girls can dress up as boys.
  • Violin, badminton, flowers, art, ponies, ballet, singing, music, teddies, knitting, animals, football, gymnastics.
  • I like being a girl because we get to wear lots of nice dresses.
  • I like football, even though I’m a girl.
  • Some girls like boyish things.
  • Girls like to dress nice. They also like playing with dolls and princesses.
  • Sometimes boys can’t understand them.

Questions

The children were then given the opportunity to walk around the classroom, looking at images of tomboys, girls playing football and climbing trees, girls dressed as knights, boys in dresses and kilts, pantomime dames and women in suits.

They were asked 5 questions and asked to stand on a continuum line to show whether they agreed (yes/thought it was OK) or disagreed (no/thought it was not OK). Below are some of their comments.

  1. Do you feel happy playing with girls and boys?

‘Yes, I’m happy playing with both boys and girls. Boys are just like girls.’

‘I’m not sure, I don’t play with girls, I prefer rough games and football (boy).’

  1. Do you mind if people are tomboys?

‘I don’t want to play with tomboys, I don’t want to play rough (girl).’

‘I play football, I like playing rough games and games with boys. I play tennis with my dad (girl).’

  1. Do you think it’s OK for women to wear suits?

‘I don’t know if women should wear suits (girl).’

‘Yes, I bought a suit on holiday (girl).’

‘No, it looks really weird (girl).’

  1. Do you think it’s OK for men to wear skirts (kilts)?

‘No, my brother wore a skirt and it looked weird. People laughed (girl).’

‘Yes, boys wear a dress at their christening (boy).’

‘Yes, I’ve seen a boy wearing a skirt with shorts. He didn’t look silly (girl).’

‘Maybe. It doesn’t look silly. I’m not sure if they should wear it (girl).’

  1. Do you think it’s OK for men to be pantomime dames?

‘Yes, it’s OK for men to dress up as ladies. If there’s no other option, men have to do it (girl).’

‘No, men have to put make up on and everyone laughs at them (girl).’

 

The children then developed their own questions and chose this question for their philosophy circle:

Is it OK for girls to do boys things and boys to do girls things?

Girls’ comments

‘All girls don’t have to do girl things.’

‘It’s OK for girls and boys to play together. Some girls are tomboys, they like playing football and rugby.’

‘I don’t like playing rough stuff, it can hurt people.’

‘Girls and boys should do both. Some boys like doing gymnastics, some girls like playing football. You can play what you like, but not rough because you could break something.’

‘At playtime I play a boys’ game with my friend (who’s a boy).’

‘When we’re outside, everyone can play together. They can pick which game they want to play.’

Boys’ comments

‘I mind because I’m a boy. I don’t want to play princesses or Barbie or other girl things. I like football (disagreement from girls, who said they don’t all like to play princesses).’

‘Boys and girls can do whatever they want. Parcours is like gymnastics. I like that. Girls like riding bikes, some boys like gymnastics.’

‘Girls and boys can play anything they want. My little brother loves gymnastics. I like video games, gymnastics and dancing. I like being creative, like some girls do.’

‘Boys can play girls’ games and girls can play boys’ games. Some girls play football, boys can do gymnastics.’

‘Some girls like to play boy things and some like to play girl stuff- it’s whatever they want. They can choose their own life. They are free to do whatever they want.’

 

As a follow up, the children were asked to write down their thoughts about the question in their think books.

Think Books

Girls’ comments

‘If a girl likes football, then she can do it because she might be a tom boy. She doesn’t have to be friends with girls, she can be friends with boys because you might play football with boys and make friends with them as well as girls. Girls can also do rugby better because my friend plays rugby and cricket.’

‘I think it’s OK because I like doing boys things.’

‘Girls are allowed to play with boys because there is no difference. Only some boys like football and some girls like gymnastics.’

‘You are free to do whatever you want.’

‘I think girls are allowed to wear boys’ clothes because I’m a girl and I wear boys’ clothes.’

‘I think that girls can play football. Girls can climb trees. Girls can play with boys.’

Boys’ comments

‘It’s OK because I have played Barbie and my sister has played Jurassic Park when I was little.’

‘Some girls like playing girl stuff but they might have a best friend who is a boy.’

‘It’s OK for girls to do boys things because everyone can live their own life.’

‘I think there are no boys’ things or girls’ things because I am a boy and I like gymnastics and I have friends who are girls and they like rugby and tennis.’

‘I think girls and boys have the right to do anything they want. They have a decision and they can do gymnastics if they want to. They have the option to do whatever they like. Girls can play boys’ stuff and boys can play girls’ stuff.’