From toys in childhood, colors in the wardrobe, and job preferences in adulthood, stereotypes of gender roles are firmly established in our society.
The rulebook of these discriminatory norms, guides generations about the conduct and expectations basis one’s gender. And the threats of these stereotypes begin right from early childhood.
Family life and school ambiance further nurture these baseless beliefs and all this continues from education to employment!
The impact of gender stereotypes in education are clearly visible within the realm of our traditional schools-
- Practices – Light work like cleaning, packing and supervision is often allocated to girls. It is believed that boys are good at lifting bulky commodities like furniture and carrying a heavy pile of notebooks for the teachers.
- Typical Queue System– It is also seen that kids are segregated in queues basis their gender, i.e. lining up in different queues with the same gender.
- Behavior– Girls are advocated to be caring, tolerant and supportive in order to prepare them for their upcoming female specific roles. On the other hand, boys are likable when they are bold, outspoken and ambitious.
These stereotypes of gender roles are lifelong obstacles for half of the world’s population.
United Nation’s Youth Stats reveal that female students are much more at risk than
their male counterparts in almost all aspects of education and employment.
This is because these deep-rooted gender inequalities and disparities lay a
strong foundation of sex differences in society!
Despite several efforts, we are still struggling to overcome these unexplained value and belief systems.
World Economic Forum’s ‘Global gender gap report summarizes the success rates of 149 countries in reducing the age-old stereotypes of gender roles. It examined the impact of these inequalities across some fundamental categories (health and survival, political empowerment, educational attainment and economic participation and opportunity).
World Economic Forum’s report states that, by the year 2018, the global gender gap
was 68%, which means that woman advancement is still not on the priority list of
several countries across the globe!
Changing gender roles in society is an endeavor that needs every citizen’s participation, because this problem is prevalent in our homes, schools, families, and professional workplaces.
Thankfully, our society is witnessing a positive change as the iGen is challenging these mindless and baseless beliefs. Let’s understand how-
- Utilizing digital skills against exploitation:
For the new-age learners, specific female gender roles are not valid anymore. Digital technologies and skills have now redefined the idea of psychological safety for females. They are now using the power of technology to voice their opinions and issues related to biases, stereotypes, inequalities, etc. Social media and other online communications are perfect platforms to connect with the world and acquire support of others who have faced similar issues.
- Breaking the myths related to STEM education:
Our new-age learners are also making the most of this technology-driven educational landscape. Today, female students are heading towards STEM learning and choose STEM careers like their male counterparts.
The age-old myth that science fields are only for men is no more a reality. They are getting more and more inclined towards futuristic STEM education. This paradigm shift is an indication of the changing gender roles in society because STEM fields are known for having more positive economic outcomes for students in their career paths. Our female students are acknowledging this fact and the change is visible like never before.
Statistics show that in the USA, female students earned more credits in STEM subjects like Precalculus, Algebra ll, Chemistry, Advanced Biology, and Health Science/Technologies.
With this advancement of women through STEM education, they have once again proved their potential, which is beyond the age-old predefined female gender roles.
- Transformational leadership at the workplace:
The leadership functions performed by women at the workplace have also changed the myths related to gender roles. Contrary to the stereotypes of gender roles, women have proven to be great leaders with their superlative attributes and multitasking abilities.
Supporting facts and conclusions of researches have proved that transformational leadership can yield great results irrespective of the leader’s gender or role identity and authentic female leadership is already acknowledged in many top organizations and political parties.
Eminent female role models are constantly inspiring young generations to question these mindless beliefs. They showcase the importance of contentiousness and perseverance over less relevant aspects like gender or sex differences.
Gender stereotypes in education and the workplace are still present. But the signs of a positive change are also visible.
- Making inroads into male-dominated jobs:
Male gender roles are no more a reality!
Today, women have rooted out gender biases by achieving success in the so-called male-dominated industries.
As per a leading American news channel, the trends of recruitment and hiring have
now shifted from men to women.
And there are some clear examples of profiles like the ‘retail operations manager’. This report states that 18% of the newly hired retail operations managers were women.
A similar paradigm shift in male-dominated industries is also noticed in other career options like ‘environmental consultant’, ‘customer service or support manager’, ‘public policy specialist’, and many more.
As per World Bank, gender gaps in education and even in employment largely
reduces the economic growth of a nation.
So this change is not just for our younger generations but also for our world at large. As parents/adults we need to be cautious about eliminating gender discrimination and biases from our family and social life.
Here are some mindful practices that can be followed at home and in schools to keep gender biases at bay-
- Selection of words:
Early childhood is a vulnerable stage to plant these biases in a child’s mind. Our language, selection of toys, books, color of dresses, etc. needs to be free from any signs of these gender beliefs.
Even for elder kids at home or at schools, it’s better to discuss gender portrayals (shown in books, movies, etc.) without emphasizing on female or male gender roles.
- Give importance to abilities and virtues instead of appearance:
Gender values and roles are mostly based on the attributes and personality traits of genders in general. As adults, we must ensure that we do not limit ourselves to compliments just about appearances.
For girls, we must make use of more adjectives that can speak of their skillsets, capabilities, and inherent strengths, instead of just telling them how pretty they look.
- Saying ‘No’ to task segregation:
At school or at home, there should be no tasks aligned to girls just because they fall in the category of household chores. Instead, kids at home should be asked to happily extend a helping hand in all chores that they can help with.
Even at school, girls can help with all possible tasks (considering their age and physical condition).
Teachers should intervene and contradict any belief, statement or practice that
support stereotypes of gender roles in any form.
Kids should be treated as kids, and there should be no girls and boys while forming lines and gathering for activities.
Teachers in traditional schools can also follow the practices used in digital schooling platforms because these platforms consciously make use of strategies that promote gender equality in students.
Online learning has made a systematic change in the teaching and learning processes and it has created an egalitarian learning environment free from gender and other biases. Students have equal opportunities in an online platform and avail the benefits of virtual learning in a threat-free environment.
- Emphasize physical strength irrespective of gender:
Changing gender roles in society is impossible without acquainting our kids of their physical and mental strength. It is also our moral responsibility to make our kids tough and strong. And again it has nothing to do with their gender. Sports and adventure are great for all kids.
- Instill confidence through gender reversal talks:
Numerous things around us like movies, books and TV shows reiterate these gender beliefs and biases repeatedly. We can eliminate the effect of these beliefs by discussing the same male characters and their portrayals as females or vice versa.
It is also good to support statements with interesting facts, that prove the point that gender does not determine capabilities. These discussions can motivate a girl child even more and simultaneously the boys will learn to acknowledge the capabilities of girls.
Let’s wrap up….
Stereotypes shrink the abilities of our females by confining them to the boundaries of baseless beliefs. Thankfully, our new generations are challenging these notions at each step. But the way forward needs our active participation to realize this goal.
Thanks for reading!