Gender Doesn't Limit You

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Educators at St. Francis School in Austin, Tex., teamed up with researchers from the Gender and Racial Attitudes Lab at the University of Texas at Austin to examine ways to counteract gender bullying among young children.

The project team tested a traditional multicultural technique — using literature to challenge gender stereotypes — against a more experimental one — teaching students catchphrases to interrupt gender bullying. The latter approach produced far greater effects on students’ gender attitudes and significantly increased their willingness to take a stand against gender bullying.

This curriculum presents six lesson plans that served as the basis of the St. Francis study. Each addresses a particular form of gender bullying (also available as a PDF):

Peer Exclusion
Exclusion from peer interaction (e.g., “Girls can’t play.”)

Role Exclusion
Exclusion from particular roles (e.g., “Girls have to be the nurses.”)

Teasing about Gendered Activities
Teasing about cross sex-typed activities, traits, or possessions (e.g., “You have a girls’ lunch box,” directed at a boy.)

Biased Judgments
Biased judgments (e.g. “Boys are better at math than girls.”)

Gendered Beliefs
Sex-typed beliefs (e.g. “Only boys can fix cars.”)

Highlighting Gender
Highlighting of gender (e.g., “Boys sit over here and girls sit over there.”)

The lessons are sequenced to introduce the problem, teach students a catchphrase and then practice using the response.