Gender norms and stereotypes are so ingrained in our society that adults are often surprised to realize how early children internalize these ideas. When young children get caught up in stereotypical notions of gender, though, it can harm their self images and the way they interact with peers. Children need opportunities to consider these internalized stereotypes and think about the problems they cause.
In this lesson, students will think about characteristics they ascribe to either boys or girls. They will learn about the idea of “stereotypes” and will consider whether gender stereotypes are fair or unfair. They will also discuss how it feels to not conform to socially defined gender norms.
Some useful readings on the role of gender stereotypes in young children include, Does Gender Expression Have An Age Requirement?
Very specific strategies to help young children combat gender stereotypes using their own words can be found in Gender Doesn't Limit You.
More in-depth examinations of the history of gender stereotypes and how they can harm children are included in Peggy Orenstein's Cinderella Ate My Daughter and Dan Kindlon's Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys.
Still Failing at Fairness, by David Sadker and Karen Zittleman, addresses the way that education pigeonholes children into gender roles, and includes concrete tips for teachers to create more equitable classrooms.
Activities and embedded assessments address the following standards from the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts.
CCSS: SL.1, SL.3, SL.6