We’ve arrived! Introducing the new Improving Gender Balance and Equality (IGBE) team within Education Scotland. We are a team of 6 officers (5 in post and 1 on their way) with a focus to embed the learning from the Improving Gender Balance pilot across all schools within Scotland. The pilot, supported by Skills Development Scotland, the Institute of Physics and Education Scotland, explored ways of addressing unconscious bias and tackling stereotypes. Its aim was to make education inclusive and accessible for all, regardless of gender.
What was the learning from the pilot?
- Approaches impacted positively on practitioners’ practice, including but not limited to, language used, interactions, pedagogy and resources used in learning
- The programme developed awareness and understanding of stereotypes and a willingness to challenge this among learners
- Interventions led to a greater ethos of inclusiveness and fairness felt by learners in schools
- There was an increased awareness of gender stereotypes and unconscious bias among practitioners and learners
- The support provided through the programme was flexible, tailored and was aligned with all aspects of the curriculum
We have until 2022 to support all schools and early learning and childcare centres (ELCs) to ensure gender balance and equality is at the heart of learning and teaching. The timing couldn’t be better. Scotland is making great strides to tackle gender imbalances and inequality. In March 2017 the First Minister’s National Advisory Council on Women and Girls (NACWG) was initiated. The council brings a variety of women and girls, from the age of 15 years, together to raise awareness of gender inequalities in Scotland. The purpose of the Advisory Council is to champion positive progress and policy change and to be a catalyst for change by providing a challenging voice to the First Minister and her team. Regionally, the Developing Young Workforce (DYW) Programme and the STEM Education and Training Strategy have received great support and continue to strive to develop skills for learning, life and work. Both of these areas have provided strong support for IGBE learning and have proven to provide excellent contexts for tackling gender imbalance and unconscious bias. Nationally, the Scottish Government has committed to become the first country to include LGBTI+ issues and topics within its curriculum.
UK-wide we are seeing progress too. The cracking down on sexist stereotypes in the media reflects the shift in public perception and understanding of the potential harm of perpetuating gender stereotypes. In 2018, the Advertising Standards Authority’s (ASA) issued new rules regarding the content of adverts portraying gender stereotypes which could cause harm or offence. The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) released a statement in December 2018 stating that advertising has a key role to play in the depiction and reinforcement of gender stereotypes. The new rules not only apply to newspapers, magazines, television, cinema, leaflets and adverts on the internet, but also to paid-for promotional posts from celebrity endorsers or influencers on Instagram. CAP clearly states that the new code of conduct is not intended to prevent adverts from the following:
- Featuring glamourous/attractive/successful/aspirational/healthy people or particular lifestyles
- One gender only, including ads for products developed for and aimed at one gender
- Gender stereotypes as a means to challenge their negative effects
ASA conducted research which found that the roles and aspirations depicted were often reinforcing gender stereotypes.. Girls were often portrayed in a caring role and boys were shown being more energetic. Further information and research from ASA is available online.
Education Scotland is committed to improving gender balance and equality across Scotland. Our shiny new team, who come with a wealth of experience both within and outwith the education sector, would love to hear from you. If you have done some work on improving the gender balance and/or equality within your setting and want to share that with us, please email us or tweet using the hashtag #IGBE. If you are seeking a fresh pair of eyes to come and support you on your journey, then we would love to hear from you. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. There is also a wealth of information and support available at the national improvement hub. The IGBE team look forward to hearing from and working with you.
Literature used to form this Blog;
Improving Gender Balance Scotland Pilot. Summary of Key findings along with other supporting documents can be found at https://education.gov.scot/improvement/learning-resources/Improving%20gender%20balance%203-18
National Advisory Council on Women and Girls, https://onescotland.org/equality-themes/advisory-council-women-girls/
UK advertising watchdog to crack down on sexist stereotypes, 14th Dec 2019, The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/dec/14/uk-advertising-watchdog-to-crack-down-on-sexist-stereotypers
Advertising guidance on depicting gender stereotypes likely to cause harm or serious or widespread offence, CAP. https://www.asa.org.uk/uploads/assets/uploaded/f39a881f-d8c9-4534-95f180d1bfe7b953.pdf
Depictions, Perceptions and Harm, The full report including supporting research documents from ASA is available at https://www.asa.org.uk/resource/depictions-perceptions-and-harm.html