Fighting for gender equality must start early as gender stereotypes have been directly or indirectly programmed into stories that we are using at schools and in many cultures.
We may recall that when we were kids, we were taught that superheroes were mostly men and that princesses can only find happiness by marrying some “prince charming.” The idea of a woman hero is rarely found across cultures in the world. These boy/girl stereotypes have limited girls enthusiasm to learn and develop believing in their own abilities as all of their male peers are encouraged to dream higher.
Slowly over time, societies, while supporting payroll disparity, have further deepened feelings of superiority/inferiority. For example, “Science is only for men,” will convince girls that growing up to be a scientist is not for them; consequently, this diminishes their opportunity to develop further in this field.
Schools must lead the way to prevent these stereotypes from resuming as they would be guilty of undermining a woman’s right to be who they wish. They will continue to think that “girls will be girls” and are only entitled to certain jobs or responsibilities. We must create a gender-neutral and stereotype-free learning environment where kids are allowed to choose without being judged or frowned upon for being too boyish or girlish.
Written by Colina Tran