Brief description of the issue
Our buy-in of gender stereotypes comes from the gendered socialization process and not from genetic factors (Vidal, 2015). Yet, because we have been socialized ourselves in a context where different expectations are associated with men and women, we tend to reinforce, without noticing, these stereotypes within our interactions with children, who then learn these social norms themselves (Amboulé Abath, 2009). To film ourselves and then to analyze our own behaviours allow us to uncover the gender biases in our behaviours with children.
To create a video that allows you to analyze your own pedagogical practices, you can ask a colleague to film or to observe you, or you can even place a camera at the back of the classroom so that students will forget it’s there through the day or the period.
We adapted self-observation grids from a Swiss guide (Ducret & Nanjoud, 2015) that help early childhood educators analyze their behaviours by coding different interactions they might have noticed in a situation they’ve filmed while they were working with children. This grid can also be used at the preschool level, in a school daycare service or during an activity in a family community organization.
To fill out these grids, here are a few questions to ask yourself when reflecting on your educational practices, inspired by Ducret and Nanjoud (2015) and the Secrétariat à la condition féminine (2013).
Interactions with students
- Are students welcomed by their first name? Notice the nicknames you give students. Are you differentiating between boys and girls? Which compliments do you give students? Do you give them nicknames or do you call them by their first name?
- To who are you speaking the most? Who answers? Who is interrupted?
- During meals, how are children organized around the table? Who is served first? Who is helped? With who are you interacting?
- When students are arguing, do you take action? If not, how is the conflict solved? If you do take action, who usually “wins” the argument? To who do you propose to accommodate? How do students react during a conflict (surrender, accommodate, resist)?
- Which students have you helped to do the daily chores?
- Which students need help to dress up or to undress?
- What is happening during the clean-up moments? Is there a call made to everyone? Who is cleaning up? Did you take action, so boys and girls alike are participating to the clean up?
- Which students are solicited to help out for the daily chores? Draw two columns, one for boys and another one for girls, and note the different activities performed by boys and girls, then compare.
- When you talk to students, how do you address them? Do you talk differently with boys and girls?
- When you talk to students, notice the situations when you referred to a dad or a mom. Compare the situations!
- Notice the names of the educational puppets or toys you used to facilitate activities with children. Are the names masculine, feminine or gender-neutral?
- Listen to the tone and volume of your voice when you scold, congratulate, encourage or ask students for something. Is it different when you’re talking to a boy or a girl?
- Who is encouraged, congratulated, complimented? For what type of activity or behaviour?
- Retrieve compliments addressed to boys and girls. Are they aligned with gender stereotypes?
- What are the emotions expressed by students? How do you react?
- When a student hurt him or herself, who are you comforting? Who are we encouraging not to cry? Which words are used to comfort the student?
Interactions with parents
- When there is a concern with a student, which parent comes to your mind first (mother or father)?
- Are there questions or requests you only ask to fathers or mothers? If so, which ones?
- Which information are you exchanging with mothers? And with fathers? Are they any different?
- Do your discussions with students go beyond information related to the child? If so, with mothers? Fathers? Both?
- In response to the information you give them regarding their child’s behaviour, are mothers and fathers asking questions?
AMBOULÉ ABATH, Anastasie (2009). Étude qualitative portant sur les rapports égalitaires (garçons et filles) en service de garde, Laval University, 140 pages.
DUCRET, Véronique et NANJOUD, Bulle (2015). Guide d’observation des comportements des professionnel-le-s de la petite enfance envers les filles et les garçons, 2e édition, Le 2e Observatoire, accessible at: http://www.2e-observatoire.com/downloads/poupee_guide_interieur_simple_web.pdf
SECRÉTARIAT À LA CONDITION FÉMININE (2011). D’égal(e) à égaux : pour la promotion de rapports égalitaires entre filles et garçons dans les services de garde éducatifs. Québec: Ministère de la Culture, des Communications et de la Condition féminine.
VIDAL, Catherine (2015). Nos cerveaux, tous pareils, tous différents ! Laboratoire de l’Égalité, Éditions Belin, 79 pages.