Brief description of the issue
Activities organized by the teacher sometimes carry with them gender stereotypes that confine boys and girls to very defined roles and limit their aspirations. It is sometimes difficult to see how much the activities we choose to put in place might contribute to reinforce gender stereotypes as well as inequalities between boys and girls.
Analysis grids to uncover stereotypical activities
The two following analysis grids allow early childhood educators to analyze the activities before, during and after putting them in place. Ideally, in the first grid, you would find more checkmarks in the “Both” column.
|Regarding the activity...||Boys||Girls||Both|
|Who is the target audience of the activity?|
|Who is usually participating in this activity?|
|To which gender is this activity usually associated?|
|Who has access first to the material?|
|Who puts the material away once the activity is over?|
|Who occupies the physical space the most during the activity?|
|Who occupies the sound space the most during the activity?|
As for the second grid, it allows, combined with the first one, to see which areas of the child development are encouraged by an activity and to then see if boys and girls participate equally in activities involving all areas of a child’s development. It also allows to determine if the activity is competitive (in which case it contributes to reinforcing masculine stereotypes having a negative effect on school retention) or if it encourages more collaboration (which is ideal in an activity involving boys and girls alike).
We notice that when we let children choose their activities, the activities focused on the development of social skills and emotional literacy are mainly chosen by girls, boys being more inclined to choose motor activities (global physical development) as well as activities linked to spatial awareness (cognitive development) and to general knowledge, particularly in the field of science and mathematics.
|Regarding the activity...||Yes||No|
|Which area of a child’s development is this activity working on?|
|- Physical health and well-being|
|- Social skills|
|- Emotional literacy|
|- Language and cognitive development|
|- Communications skills and general knowledge|
|Is this activity encouraging competition?|
|Is this activity encouraging collaboration or cooperation?|
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.