Why this matters
"Action to combat gender-based stereotypes must start at a very young age and should promote behaviour models which value individual choices of education pathways and support equality between men and women"
Equality of Men and Women Report
National Union of Teachers
"Challenging gender stereotypes is likely to have widely beneficial effects in terms of improving educational and life outcomes for both genders helping young people and adults to have respectful and fulfilling relationships and improving behaviour in our classrooms."
Stereotypes stop you doing stuff Report
Girl Guiding UK
"Gender stereotypes are holding sway over girls as young as seven, skewing their view of what girls and boys can achieve."
Girl Guiding Attitudes Survey Report
All children should be given the opportunity to explore and discover the colours, styles, themes and slogans that they want to wear - and what they feel most comfortable in. Choice is important, and its a big part of growing up.
The Fawcett Society
"“Gender stereotypes hold us all back. We have boys who cannot express their emotions, become aggressive, under-achieve at school and go on to be part of a culture of toxic masculinity which normalises violence. We have girls who have low self-esteem and issues with their body image, with one in five 14-year-old girls self-harming. We have a heavily segregated labour market where just 8% of STEM apprentices are women. Gender stereotyping is at the root of all of this. We have to grasp the challenge to change it.”
Sam Smethers, Chief Executive
UN Human Rights Council
"Stereotypes often dictate different expectations for boys and girls, such as completion of education and fields of study to pursue. Stereotypes are also perpetuated in school curricula and materials, which often leads to occupational gender segregation, with girls less likely to study and pursue careers in highly valued professional and traditionally male-dominated fields, such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics."
Report on Gender Stereotyping
Advertising Standards Agency
"Young children appear to be in particular need of protection from harmful stereotypes as they are more likely to internalise the messages they see. However, there is also significant evidence of potential harm for adults in reinforcing already internalised messages about how they should behave and look on account of their gender."
Depictions, Perceptions & Harms Report
We are just one campaign in a growing number of grass-roots groups who are concerned that instead of celebrating choice and equality, retailers are promoting harmful and outdated ideas about the role of men and women in society.
Let Toys Be Toys
"How toys are labelled and displayed affects consumers’ buying habits. Many people feel uncomfortable buying a boy a pink toy or a girl a toy labelled as ‘for boys’. Other buyers may simply be unaware of the restricted choices they are offered. They may not notice that science kits and construction toys are missing from the “girls” section, or art & crafts and kitchen toys from the “boys”. If they’re never offered the chance, a child may never find out if they enjoy a certain toy or style of play. Children are taking in these messages about what girls and boys are ‘supposed to like’. They are looking for patterns and social rules – they understand the gender rule ‘This is for boys and that is for girls,’ in the same way as other sorts of social rules, like ‘Don’t hit”.
"This campaign is way overdue. Pink does stink – it has the reek of Sugababe, Spice Girl and all things nice. It is the colour of the glass ceiling that traps young girls’ aspirations in a perfect pink bubble – pretty, pleasant and politely imprisoning.... Whether it is the baby pink colour that infantilises daughters or the sickly pink of Barbie’s prison bars, pink is never shocking. It needs a generation to tell it to pink off."
Ros Wynne-Jones, Journalist and Author on her support for Pinkstinks.
Trousers For All
“Discriminatory school uniform policies not only maintain outdated and offensive gender discrimination, but they also send strong signals to children about what it is to be a ‘proper’ girl or boy.
The stipulation that boys wear trousers while girls must wear skirts promotes messages that boys are active, while girls should be less active, decorative, and ‘demure’. We need to challenge such stereotypical assumptions, and gender discrimination wherever it is found.
The choice of trousers or skirts should not be constrained by gender, and that is why I support the Trousers for All campaign.”
Professor Becky Francis, Director of UCL Institute of Education.
Girls and boys are a similar size and shape up until puberty, taking part in the same activities inside and outside of the classroom. We also know that our brains aren't so different either, and are behaviours are largely shaped by our experiences, not the sex we are born.
Dr. Gina Rippon
“The idea of the male brain and the female brain suggests that each is a characteristically homogenous thing and that whoever has got a male brain, say, will have the same kind of aptitudes, preferences and personalities as everyone else with that ‘type’ of brain. We now know that is not the case. We are at the point where we need to say, ‘Forget the male and female brain; it’s a distraction, it’s inaccurate.’ It’s possibly harmful, too, because it’s used as a hook to say, well, there’s no point girls doing science because they haven’t got a science brain, or boys shouldn’t be emotional or should want to lead.”
"Plasticity is now a scientific given – the brain is moulded from birth onwards until old age"
Interview for The Guardian
"Children's view about gender differences reach "peak rigidity" between 5 and 7 years of age. From then on, they increasingly understand that t is not only boys who like to be active, and make things and sometimes be nasty and it is not only women who can be affectionate, cry, and clean and tidy house. But even as their growing cognitive flexibility enables them to consciously modify or even reject certain gender stereotypes, we can only presume that these stereotypical gender associations linger on, continuing to be reinforced by the patterns of a half-changed world. There they will be, ready to flesh out the details of the self-concept whenever the social context brings gender identity to the fore."
Delusions of Gender, Icon Books, P231
Between the ages of 3 and 5, children start becoming aware that they are a boy or a girl. They pick up in a range of ways that this is important, though they don't understand that it is not fixed. Holding tightly on to their newly acquired gender, they fear that the slightest transgression will rob them of a core element in their identity. So girls fear that if they have their hair cut they will become boys, and boys fear that putting on a dress will turn them into a girl. (If only!) The feminine somehow seems almost physically revolting to young boys. In 2014, 8 year old US schoolboy Grayson Bruce was being bullied because he carried a My Little Pony backpack... But did the staff at the school discipline the bullies? No, they told Grayson to stop being in his favourite backpack."
The Descent of Man, Penguin, P.47-8
In the late 20th century retailers started selling clothes "for girls" / "for boys" based on traditional, outdated ideas about men and women. This meant a "targeted marketing strategy" that could sell twice as many clothes, and prevent parents from sharing clothes between siblings of different sex.
Fawcett Society Commission on Gender Stereotypes in Early Childhood
“Harmful gender stereotypes are significantly limiting children’s potential, warns a landmark report from the Commission on Gender Stereotypes in Early Childhood. The Commission was established by leading gender equality campaigning charity, the Fawcett Society, and calls for changes in education, parenting and the commercial sector.
Unlimited Potential - the final report of the Commission on Gender Stereotypes in Early Childhood sets out how gender expectations significantly limit our children, causing problems such as lower self-esteem in girls and poorer reading skills in boys. The report finds that stereotypes contribute towards the mental health crisis among children and young people, are at the root of girls’ problems with body image and eating disorders, higher male suicide rates and violence against women and girls.
Stereotyped assumptions also significantly limit career choices, contributing to the gender pay gap.”
"What every parent hopes for their child, and what educators hope for children in their class, is that they will be free to achieve their potential – yet what the evidence shows is that we still limit our children based on harmful, tired gender stereotypes."
Professor Becky Francis, Co-Chair
Read the full report here
Ethical Consumer -
Shopping Guide for Shoes
"Recent marketing trends focus on creating mini versions of adult footwear. We’re increasingly seeing shoes made for children that are heavily styled around gender stereotypes. In particular this means heels and flourishes for girls; and solid trainer-style shoes for boys. Our concerns aren’t just the stereotyping and unhealthy pigeon-holing of kids. What we’re most worried about is how parents tend to think that if a pair of shoes is sold in a shop, it must be okay for their child’s feet. In reality, heels and wedges are extremely damaging to growing feet."
"We checked to see if Clarks is still falling behind when it comes to gender equality in children’s footwear. You can filter the ‘Girls casual shoes’ range according to ‘Heel Height’. Unsurprisingly, no boys shoes are listed as having heels."
Francesca Mallen in conversation with Ethical Consumer