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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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.