Milan, editor of the youth press, just conducted a survey with the CSA Institute on gender stereotypes among 1,000 children and young people aged 7 to 15. Do sexist stereotypes persist? Do they affect behavior? Do girls and boys feel treated equally? Through a series of simple and specific questions, this survey shows that gender stereotypes are still very present among children and young people. Their very real influence poisons daily life, especially at college age. A worrying observation that the educational community needs to respond to.
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However, while some answers may challenge us, there are some important findings that we would like to highlight. 90% of those questioned, regardless of their age, feel that girls and boys are treated equally in class and in the family. Among 7-10 year olds, the fact that girls have very short hair or that boys dance is widely accepted.
clichés that endure
Unfortunately, some stereotypes still persist! 4 out of 10 children find it inappropriate for boys to wear pink or cry in public and for girls not to care about their appearance. And with the onset of puberty, the differences in perception and experience of sexism open up … to the detriment of girls.
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By middle school age, 36% of girls have experienced or witnessed sexist teasing. Most importantly, a third of them declare that they do not act freely for fear of the reactions their behavior would provoke. How does this enforced obedience translate into their daily lives? Many of them, according to readers who reach us, don’t dress the way they want to, don’t play the sport of their choice, and don’t adhere to standards related to their appearance.
“I’ve been the victim of a lot of criticism. If only because I’m not growing, and it’s “bad” for a girl. But also because I joined the college athletic club to play soccer (which is my passion) and I had to quit. I was the only girl, nobody wanted me on their team and they said to me: “What the hell are you doing here, you’re a girl”, “don’t give him the passport”, “go to the gym with them the others”. I lived it very badly. »
This youthful speech, a reflection of so many others received by the editors, shows how sexism imposes its constraints and invites girls to adopt well-normed behaviors. But let’s not forget that these college students are tomorrow’s adults! We can always dream of peaceful relations between women and men, of the disappearance of violence against women, of equal treatment. If we don’t act quickly to reduce the exposure of girls to sexism, it will all remain dead letter.
Primary educational goal
It is important not to let up the fight against stereotypes and to make it a priority in education. To help, we’ve produced the Not even true (2) podcast series for families and teachers, which offers children “Destroying Stereotypes”. For several weeks, a team of journalists met with classes from CM1-CM2 to do real research on sexist stereotypes. The students first checked the presence of clichés in school, in the family or in books. They then questioned where the stereotypes came from and if they always existed by interviewing an expert.
Eventually they came up with ideas to fight them. This deconstruction approach, in which children are the main actors, is very effective. Children question their environment, collect and organize information, look for solutions. So that girls, finally freed from sexist clichés, no longer bend.