If you teach young children, you may often hear their opinions about what is meant for ‘girls’ and ‘boys’ voiced on a daily basis:
“Pink is for girls”
“Boys don’t wear pink”
Analyzing this through a feminist lens, this ideology and the socially constructed roles and responsibilities associated with gender are forced upon children from birth – and arguably even before birth. If you don’t believe me, think about the colour of blankets given to swaddle infants in hospitals.
This is not just about pink. It’s about creating a learning space for students to be themselves, feel empowered and continuing to challenge injustices they encounter now and every day.
How can we challenge gender stereotypes in education?
- In a previous post, celebrating International Women’s Day – I stated that “You cannot have feminism without intersectionality”. In order for growth to occur, we must represent all people in our pedagogy -students who are part of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, students who are Black, FNMI students, students who belong to racialized and marginalized groups and students who have disabilities. Not only should students see themselves reflected, but their families, their friends, their neighbours, their community members, and other humans that walk this earth with them. We cannot dismantle one single stereotype without teaching from an ant-racist, anti-oppressive framework.
- We can be mindful of the learning materials we use in our classrooms. From toys to textbooks, there are hidden messages about gender everywhere. One of my favourite (but really least favourite) examples to think about is kitchen centres for young children. Kitchen centres are wonderful learning spaces in Kindergarten classrooms and provide many opportunities for developing social and emotional skills, practicing math concepts and promoting oral language. Now, think about why many of these sets are pink?
- We can include critical literacy and books that challenge social norms in our program on a regular basis.
- We can critically reflect on our own understandings of gender as a social construct, amplify the voices marginalized people and commit to continuous learning and growth by actively listening to our students needs.
Pink is for everyone.