When in the classroom it appears children are really innocent and do not realise what is expected of them. To some extent this is true but, without children realising, they are being socialized into what society expects them to be.
Children of any age, size, race, ethnicity, gender should be allowed to be who they want to be, and even although this may be something we try and encourage children to understand, it is society who are warping their minds.
This predominantly starts from our own experiences, for example from what our family does, from what friends want to do, from who our teachers, doctors, nurses are…. the list is endless. From my own personal experience, I had always had female teachers through Nursery and Primary School. Then, when the new male head teacher started, safe to say, I was terrified! I didn’t know what to make of him; as I had never experienced a male teacher before and I did not know what to make of the situation.
Even although I was at Primary School 8 years ago now, this is a still prominent feature in today’s society. Take, for example, the Education course I am on just now, there is only 4 boys overall on the course; only 4 boys who will therefore go into the teaching profession creating a role model for another generation of young children. I think we need to change the future of the education system for men, make it more acceptable for men to join the profession. The government are always saying we need more teachers. I think they are missing a trick with trying to involve more men.
However, it is not just our experiences which go towards this; the media does not help either.
Children’s television programmes are a constant source of portraying to children what they should and shouldn’t be. Normally we see the stereotypical male and female roles being played by male and female characters. For example, in Balamory, PC Plum is stereotypically played by a man and Miss Hoolie, the Nursery worker, is stereotypically played by a woman. Or Bob the Builder (stereotypically played by a man) is saying to young girls that you cannot be me, but you can be Miss Hoolie.
Quoting Bob the Builders famous catch phrase: “Can we fix it?” – Can we fix this growing epidemic, where girls believe they can only be in stereotypical female jobs and and males can only be in stereotypical male jobs?
Recently, this idea has been raised by the Chief Fire Commissioner in London. Dany Cotton is the first female Commissioner for the London Fire Brigade and recently won an award at the First Women Awards for “Women in Public Service”. After an interview on ITV she said how she thought that the famous cartoon character Fireman Sam should be named Firefighter Sam. She believes “Fireman” is not going with the “Firefighter” term they now have. And I believe her. This is a prime example for children not realising that this is something they could pursue, especially young girls.
Some people believe that simply television programmes cannot be the only reason for preventing children from being who they want to be. And I agree, but it certainly does not help. And we can see from a video done by MullenLowe that children really do believe that many professions can only be done by men.
After being asked to draw several different characters to the job roles e.g. Firefighter, surgeon etc we see that majority have drawn men. As men are socially accepted in these working roles and children believe this through their own experiences, as expressed above, and through children’s television programmes. Even when the women of each profession come into the classroom there is some girls who still do not believe it; thinking that they are dressed up! So how have we managed to say to children that its okay to dress up as these people, but you cannot actually be in this job.
I find it bizarre that we are still living in a society where both male and females cannot be and express who they want to be fully. I also find it terrifying that it was not that long ago that women and men were experiencing such hardship and, don’t get me wrong, we have a come a long way and we are better.
But we need to make it even better
Society needs to change the way they are warping children’s minds and make it more socially acceptable to let men and women be who they want to be.
“Can we fix it?”