Brief description of the issue
In Gespe’gewa’gi, the proportion of women in traditionally female jobs and the proportion of men in traditionally male jobs are very high. Among the 15 main professions occupied by men of the region, nine had a proportion of men higher than 80%. On women’s side, the same pattern shows up: 10 professions out of 15 had a proportion of women higher than 80% (Statistics Canada, 2016). To make sure that children feel comfortable in choosing a profession no matter what their gender is, it is important that we show them diversified models that go against gender stereotypes.
Redraw the balance
If you’re having a thematic activity around jobs (or not!), invite children to draw characters doing some predetermined jobs. Ask children to give a name to their character. After that, invite real people from your community that already practise this profession, but who aren’t of the gender traditionally associated with this job. For example, invite a woman working on fishing boats and a male nurse! See this example realized by a teacher in England.
It isn’t necessary to highlight that the people you’re inviting are “exceptional” within their profession or that it isn’t “normal” to be a fisherwoman, for example. The goal of the activity is to offer children diversified role models when they are building their own gender identity. Therefore, children won’t systematically see traditionally male jobs as being only for men and vice versa for traditionally female jobs.
The illustrator Élise Gravel created posters aiming at breaking down gender stereotypes, and that she offers for free to people working in early childhood and at the elementary level. One of her posters looks at scientific professions, which are less chosen by girls, and showcases a few famous women scientists.
Gravel, E. (2018). “Some famous scientists”, Élise Gravel | author and illustrator, http://elisegravel.com/en/blog/some-famous-scientists/
Statistics Canada(2016). Population census, special compilation.