March 2012: Soho Parish School runs a ‘Champions for Change’ project and Laura Kirsop, year 5 teacher, leads a half-day lesson on gender stereotypes. Read Dr Laura Nelson’s account of the lesson on her blog here.
April-May 2012: Children in year 5 carry out a survey of their class mates in all years of the school. These are a few of the results:
(Year 1) A boy said he didn’t mind what colour things were, as long as they were fun.
(Year 2) Some aspire to be made up characters when they grow up (e.g. Mario, Doctor Who) but some wanted to be doctors etc.
(Year 3) Girls liked mixed colours (turquoise, purple) but boys liked primary colours. Everyone wanted t-shirt and jeans. Girls chose building blocks not dolls. All the boys liked football but the girls had wider range of favourite sports (gym, rugby, swimming).
(Year 4) Boys chose typical boyish clothes. Girls had wider opinions generally – boys all chose same things.
(Year 6) Most boys said they weren’t stereotypical – had diverse fave colours. One girl said she’s original not stereotypical – sporty girls are cool, boys that like pink rock! Wouldn’t care what people think about her, shop in boys section without worrying.
30 May 2012: Parents of Year 5 meet Laura Kirsop, year 5 teacher, Dr Laura Nelson and Rachel Earnshaw, headteacher, to discuss their thoughts on the programme.
The same opportunities should be given to all, regardless of gender. The argument should be made that men and women are not fundamentally different in brain activity etc. I think too much direct focus on gender stereotypes could be counter-productive. Ultimately, I think measures that allow men and women to play a full role in society are the most useful way forward, e.g. equal sharing of childcare roles, better and more affordable childcare. Helen, parent
I am very happy that the extreme gender stereotyping which seems to have emerged in the late 80s and 90s is challenged and any initiative aimed a educating schools, children, parents and clothes/toy manufacturers and advertisers is long overdue, and welcomed by parents. Conny, parent
11 June 2012: Rita Beden, Breakthrough’s Media Assistant, comments on the launch.
12 June 2012: Dr Laura Nelson speaks at Cafe Scientifique in Leeds. How different are men’s and women’s brains?
18-29 June 2012: Two-week gender stereotypes programme.
Read about the media coverage of Breakthrough.