Use this lesson, part of our International Women’s Day Unit, to talk about gender stereotypes with your children and get them thinking about bias and fairness.
Simple gender lesson for children
International Women’s Day has taken place for over one hundred years and is observed on 8th March. The day celebrates women’s achievements, raises awareness against bias, and takes action for equality.
In our International Women’s Day unit, we’ll do all three. We’ll talk about girls and boys: the great things about them and the challenges they face. We’ll learn about famous female scientists, artists and activists, and inspiring women in our own community. We’ll talk about how we can take action about the things that are important to us and finish the unit by making a pledge to keep taking forward the aims of International Women’s Day all year round.
While this Unit talks about the main groups of girls and boys, it is important to note that some people – perhaps including your children – aren’t girls or boys, and some people are both. Everyone faces gender stereotypes. International Women’s Day is an event everyone can participate in.
International Men’s Day is observed on 19th November.
Intersex Awareness Day is observed on 26th October.
International Transgender Day of Visibility is observed on 31st March.
Talking about gender stereotypes
Let’s start the first lesson of our International Women’s Day unit with conversation. These question prompts allow us to:
:: talk about gender bias in a child-friendly way
:: hear what our children already know and what opinions they have
:: hear what other people think and consider their opinions
:: challenge our thinking and expand our awareness of issues people face
How to facilitate a great discussion
As you begin a conversation, it is a good idea to agree ground rules with your children so you can have an interesting and kind discussion. Perhaps you’ll agree that:
:: everyone who wants to can have a turn to speak
:: we will all listen when someone else is speaking
:: we are free to share our own opinions but we will always be kind and respectful to everyone else in what we say
:: it’s OK to change your mind
Your children will have their own experiences, reflecting their own family make-up and their family culture, which form their opinions and assumptions. Let’s acknowledge all of this, recognise difference, and leave space for new ideas too.
Are girls and boys different?
The first set of questions you can ask your children are:
Are girls and boys different?
What is good about being a girl / boy?
What is hard about being a girl/boy?
You can capture everyone’s answers on a piece of paper or white board. You might want to separate out what girls think about girls / boys think about boys, and what girls think about boys / boys think about girls.
To expand on ideas your children share you might ask “What makes you say that?’ but, at this stage, don’t challenge their assumptions too much, simply gather a snapshot of what they all think.
Who are our movie stars?
Next, ask them for the names of 10 – 20 favourite films. Then ask whether the main characters are boys or girls / men or women.
Who does what job?
You can use the Who Does What Job? cards from the printables section of the International Women’s Day Unit. Ask your children to sort the cards between jobs men do and jobs women do. Then review how they’ve been sorted and talk through any questions or queries your children have.
Who does what thing?
Then, use the Who Does What? Cards from the printables section of the International Women’s Day Unit and do a similar sort between things boys/men do and things girls/women do.
Review your opinions
Finally, review together what you have covered and see if your children have thoughts or answers to these questions:
Are boys and girls different?
Can boys/men and girls/women do the same things?
Do we expect different things from boys/men and girls/women?
Why is it like this?
Is it fair?
Is there anything they think should change?
Want more activities for children for International Women’s Day? Download the complete International Women’s Day Unit here.
Get the International Women’s Day Unit for your children
This kit gives you everything you need to teach an engaging programme of activities to celebrate International Women’s Day with your children.
The unit is all planned and prepped for you, with bonus printables to make it easy for you deliver an International Women’s Day curriculum which is engaging and relevant to children.