How gender stereotypes affected me at primary school

In the book ‘Learning to teach in the Primary School’ by Teresa Cremin and James Arthur, they describe the definition of ‘gender’ as being different to that of ‘sex’. Whereas the term ‘sex’ is used to signify the biological differences between male and female, ‘gender’ describes the patterns of behaviour and attitudes attributed to members of each sex that are an effect of experiences of education, culture and socialisation.

During my time at primary school, I wasn’t greatly effected by gender stereotypes, although I was aware of them and they were definitely there. At primary school age I wasn’t actually aware of what the term ‘stereotype’ really was or meant. I just understood and believed that girls and boys were treated differently.

One of the biggest stereotypes I remember was boys being asked to lift heavy objects into the classroom. The teacher would say something along the lines of “would any strong boy like to volunteer to lift these boxes?” or “I need three strong gentlemen to help me lift this table”, and from a young age it was ingrained into our heads that males were stronger, more dominant characters. The playground was another environment where gender stereotypes were apparent. Girls, for example, would never even think about playing football with the boys. Not because she didn’t enjoy it or wasn’t good at it, but because she had it in her head that football was a ‘boys sport’ and that she would be made fun of if she took part. Vice versa, boys would never play with dolls or take part in a game of ‘mums and dads’ because they would be afraid of being laughed at because those are, stereotypically, girls games.

So, even though gender stereotypes didn’t affect me in a great deal during primary school, they did exist and to some extent, even if I wasn’t aware of it, influenced me into knowing wat was ‘right or wrong’ for either girls or boys to take part in or not.

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