WHAT DOES GENDER STEREOTYPING MEAN?
A gender stereotype is a generalised view or preconception about attributes, characteristics, and roles that are or ought to be possessed by, or performed by women and men. Gender stereotypes are harmful as they limit women’s and men’s capacity to develop their personal abilities, pursue their professional careers and make happy and fulfilling life choices.
Most of these gender distinctions often have no logical justification (why is pink a colour for girls?), and seem to exist primarily as a means of exaggerating the differences and playing down the similarities between sexes.
Studies from all over the world prove that gender based stereotypes still have a big impact on young people and unsettle some of the established assumptions about what girls and boys might like is necessary, as these stereotypes are often ‘promoted’ or endorsed through social media or books.
“She can he can” was born from the idea that we can challenge gender stereotypes by using children’s literature to deliver positive gender aware messages within our homes, kindergartens, schools and other learning environments.
Gender based stereotypes are so persuasive that it is important that they are challenged whenever possible. It is never too early to use inclusive language with children or talk about gender equality.
‘She can he can’ was created to facilitate discussions with children around gender awareness.
Here are some questions and reflections you can discuss with children while reading the book:
Start questioning assumptions about what constitutes ‘boys’ things and ‘girls’ things, is there a logical justification? (why are dolls a ‘girls’ toy, why is blue a boys’ colour?)
This will help supporting children’s learning about similarities rather than differences between sexes
Ask children to consider where these ideas come from. For example, you could ask: ’how do you know that blue is for boys?’. This will help children understand that stereotypical behaviours and assumptions are often learnt and not natural.
Rather than ask ‘why can’t boys play with dolls?’, you could use a more inclusive and positive approach to turn the question around an ask ‘why do children play with dolls?’
Introduce examples of non-stereotypical role models, sport champions, artists, job choices and terminology (for example ask children: ‘Why do we use the term police officer?’).
Challenge assumptions that generalised qualities like ‘strength’, ‘bravery ‘and kindness are exclusively male of female and open a discussion with children based on the why/how they made these assumptions.
Reflect on the books images: how do they portrait gender equality?
Support children’s self-esteem by encouraging them to be proud of who they are and do things because they like them and not because other people think they should
Workshops and educational resources
HE can SHE can is more than a book. It is also an educational tool to be used by guardians and educators to engage in conversations with children about gender identity and equity.
Educational guidelines and workshops based on the book will be available soon. Stay tuned!