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.
Questions to ask yourself
We adapted self-observation grids from a Swiss guide (Ducret & Nanjoud, 2015) that help educators analyze their behaviors by coding different interactions they might have noticed in a situation they’ve filmed while they were working with children. You can download it below to print it and try them yourself!
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 children
- Are children welcomed by their first name? Notice the nicknames you give to children. Are you differentiating between boys and girls? Which compliments do you give to children? 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 children 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 children react during a conflict (surrender, accommodate, resist)?
- Which children have you helped to do the daily chores?
- Which children 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 children 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 children, how do you address them? Do you talk differently with boys and girls?
- When you talk to children, 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 use 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 children 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 children? How do you react?
- When a child hurt him or herself, who are you comforting? Who are we encouraging not to cry? Which words are used to comfort the child?
Interactions with parents
- When there is a concern with a child, 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 parents 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 day, are mothers and fathers asking questions?
- Are parents against the fact that their son or daughter plays with toys associated with the opposite gender? If so, is it more for their son or daughter? How would you react?
- Are parents encouraging their child not to cry? If so, is it more for girls or boys? How would you react?
- Are parents reluctant to bring their child clothes that are appropriated for the center’s activities? If so, do you see this more often with girls or boys? How would you react?
- Do parents criticize their son or daughter for having dirtied or ripped their clothes? If so, is it more frequent with boys or girls? How would you react?
- What is your center’s policy when it comes to gender stereotypes?
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.