Gender Respect Project 2013-2016

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

Early Years: Exploring Indoors

Exploring indoors The task was to note the gender of the children in two areas of the nursery at five-minute intervals at the start of a morning session. The home corner was the first to be observed as it seemed that girls dominated it. The second area was the construction area as it seemed to be dominated by boys. The findings from the home corner During the very first five minutes girls dominated the area with no boys present. Opening cupboards, pulling out plates, finding play food and placing it in the microwave. The children had created characters: mum, mum and baby. Then after 15 minutes a boy had joined the 3 girls. No reference to his character but he said he was not dad. He had the play phone, picked it up and put it down. Repeated on a few occasions. The girls carried on while he played in parallel. From this observation the girls dominated but the area was not solely used by them. It was interesting that the boy didn’t want to be dad. The findings from the construction area During the first five minutes the boys dominated the area with no girls present. Small world play was the preference. Four children played with a pirate ship and two with the building blocks. Moving the play figures in different positions. Building a tower of bricks. After ten minutes there were fewer boys as some had moved to the sand. Two were now left at the pirate ship. Two girls were now on the floor with the building blocks, enclosing a space. A younger boy moves to the area, knocks the girls’ blocks and moves away from the area. The girls look up to express frustration. I intervened to raise awareness that his actions had annoyed the two girls building. The two girls continued. Twenty minutes later the girls had moved on and the area had only the two boys at the pirate ship. From this observation once again the area was initially dominated by boys. Two girls made it their choice later. Whether it was age or gender their play was temporarily interrupted by a child choosing to be destructive. The adult intervention demonstrated to the girls that this behaviour was not acceptable. I was careful as I didn’t want to step in unless asked as I didn’t want the two girls to think they couldn’t handle it themselves. I also didn’t want the boy to think destructive behaviour was a mechanism to attract attention as I felt that he might be learning how to gain attention by an aggressive action towards toys played with by others. A snap shot that in this case demonstrated the initial hypothesis that certain areas of the nursery were dominated by different genders. It also made a connection with an event earlier in the term where the girls were challenged when building outside. Even though the girls’ play was interrupted by a boy, I was pleased that the girls were resilient and continued to stay in the area.

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