Gender Equality Perth (GEP) recently asked Perth and Kinross parents and carers to complete a short survey to gauge local perceptions regarding gender stereotyping of young children. Twenty three people took part, and here are the results:
61% of respondents feel that all children have the same opportunities in Perth and Kinross, regardless of their gender.
70% do not think that people speak to young boys the same way they speak to young girls.
79% do not think that people have the same expectations of boys and girls, regarding their behaviour, interests, preferences, etc.
30% said there are toys or clothes which they would not buy for a child based on their gender.
At GEP, we believe that gender stereotyping of young children is a major root cause of inequality in our society. We want to see a world where every child is free to be what they want to be, and develop their interests in whatever direction they want to follow. In our opinion, stereotypes need to be abandoned before this world can be realised.
One thing we hear from parents a lot is that as kids start to get older and, in particular, go to school, it is hard to let them express themselves in ways that we fear may cause them to be bullied. Most parents want to allow and encourage their kids to challenge norms, but worry about how other children will react.
Another recurring issue is the feeling that there is only so much you can do as a parent or an early years practitioner. We can work hard to instill certain values and perspectives in the children we care for, but at the end of the day we can’t change everyone’s opinions and we can’t shield kids from the rest of the world.
We don’t have all the answers to these cultural challenges, but we feel it is key to provide a space for these conversations. We can support each other to reflect on and examine our own practices, share resources, experiences and ideas. Cultural change comes slowly, but every small step is important.
The Equal Parenting Discussion Group is our small step; we hope local parents will feel it worthwhile to join these conversations and do our part to free our children from gender stereotypes and empower them to fulfil their potential. The next conversation will take place on Saturday 31 July at 10am. Book your place to join us! https://www.genderequalityperth.com/equalparenting