In light of recent news events, it seems that sexist stereotypes and misogynistic behaviors continue to be supported and trivialized in our society. The “boys will be boys” attitude persists in all age groups, socioeconomic classes, and cultures despite attempts that have been made in the last few decades to eradicate it. What can we, as parents and teachers, do to combat the many chauvinistic messages that bombard our children every day?
Inspiring Girls, an international organization based in the UK, has an idea. Noting that many of our children are exposed at an early age to a multitude of animated characters, the organization also found that only 29% of these potential role models are female. In a revealing video included on the resources page, a classroom teachers asks her students to draw people in several different professions such as a firefighter and a surgeon. 61 pictures were drawn as men. 5 were women.
The #redrawthebalance campaign from Inspiring Girls wants us to bring awareness to this disturbing example of gender stereotypes, and to help our students see that women can be strong, intelligent, and hard-working as well. You can find a workbook on the resources page that can be printed with pages that prompt students to draw their own characters, who will hopefully be more representative of themselves. There are also downloadable posters of characters such as “Carla the Coder,” who are female.
We’ve come a long way since we had to fight for the right for women to vote. But all we have to do is take a look at the headlines to see that it hasn’t been far enough.