Challenging gender stereotyping

There is already evidence to support the opinion that fiction can play a part in tackling gender stereotyping at primary school age and thus influence career choice at a later age. The June 2002 Review by the Social Science Research Unit, University of London* concluded that tackling gender stereotyping at the primary school stage is vital, as it develops early and quickly. Various interventions were reviewed including the use of fiction in challenging gender stereotypes.

For example, in a study by A. Wing, children were read Bill’s New Frock by Anne Fine. The content of the book was discussed with them. Children were able to articulate, and reflect on, their stereotypical constructions of gender and those in the world at large. There was evidence of children considering ‘the different treatment that boys and girls receive’, and of classroom discussion enabling stereotypes to be challenged.

And, in a study by D. Woodward, it was shown that through reviewing and discussing books, both boys and girls modified their gendered attitudes in terms of their attitudes towards, and expectations of, the characteristics of the opposite sex.

In the novel 'Is', Isabel believes herself to be Isambard Kingdom Brunel reincarnated. In readings to school groups, pupils have expressed admiration for the way she stands up for herself and the way she is able to demonstrate superior knowledge of subjects they had previously thought of as being firmly a male domain.  See also Resources and Curriculum Links
WISE - women into science, engineering and construction - is an organisation set up to challenge gender stereotyping in the fields of engineering and construction. The importance of tackling this can be seen by the fact that only 15% of students on engineering degrees are women and only 2% of engineering apprentices are female.
For other educational and useful resource websites, click here
* "A systematic review of classroom strategies for reducing stereotypical gender constructions among girls and boys in mixed–sex UK primary schools"  For a pdf of the full report, click here