"School Workers" display (made in advance, see steps 1 and 2, below)
This activity strengthens the school community while helping young students begin to explore stereotyping as it relates to careers and gender.
1. Prior to the activity, tell adults on campus that you need their assistance to help students get to know school employees and to help them explore examples of gender diversity in career roles. Ask the adults to provide you with a recent photo and a brief list of their previous jobs, accompanied by a one-sentence job description.
2. Use the photographs to create a "School Workers" display, with photographs in one column, and a list of previous jobs (with the one-sentence description) in a second column. Identify each photograph with a number. Identify each job with a letter.
3. Review the display with your students. Challenge students to match the former jobs to the people. Students can talk to each other and share their assumptions openly. Once they have an idea, they can raise their hand and share their guess. Facilitate the matching exercise, recording the letter of the correct job match by the name. Allow 15 to 20 minutes to match all the adults correctly. Now the real lesson begins.
4. Explain that they are going to discuss the matching game and explore the different ideas about how gender (whether you are a boy or girl) affects beliefs about career, or work, choices and options.
Ask the students if any of the matches surprised them and why. Gender stereotyping and prejudicial statements about appearance will probably surface. Statements like, "But she is a girl and she parked cars?" or "I thought only boys were police officers."
5. After the discussion, encourage students to "think aloud" and teach the class what they learned during the activity. Not only will students learn more about their school community, but also they will begin to question attitudes about gender stereotypes and sexism.