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Proposals to educate in gender equality from Infant and Primary Education

marzo 31, 2021

Specialists on the subject recommend establishing equality plans in schools and training teachers in coeducation

Work on gender equality from school, especially with children from Infant and Primary Education, can help eliminate gender-related stereotypes and consequently to prevent situations of sexist discrimination in the future. This is the premise that the participants in this monograph share. Most acknowledge that the centers are making efforts to implement educational strategies and methodologies that contribute to breaking established sexist stereotypes, but that there is still a long way to go.

Modify sexist content in educational materials, train teachers in pedagogical proposals such as coeducation, as well as perform physical changes in the school spaces that favor gender equality are some of the ideas that the interviewees and writers of this publication suggest in order to change sexist stereotypes from early childhood. They also agree that both teachers and families should work together to break stereotypes and promote gender equality both in school and in society in general.

Change gender stereotypes from early childhood

There are various studies that attempt to explain how the gender stereotypes during childhood and how they can be avoided. Social learning theorists consider these to be patterns of behavior learned through direct and indirect experience, and observation.

Respect for the other and non-violence are learned above all through the practice of the relationships that boys and girls establish in the family and at school., and it is difficult for such values ​​to be taught if the people who do so do not behave in accordance with those values. This is stated in the research “School coexistence and prevention of gender violence from an integral perspective”, by María José Díaz-Aguado Jalón, Professor of Educational Psychology at the Complutense University of Madrid, published in the journal Educational Participation: Education, a factor of equality, of the State School Council (2009).

But when do minors begin to acquire these gender stereotypes? Girls start to feel less intelligent than boys from the age of 6, which influences the professional aspirations of women, according to the research “Gender stereotypes about intellectual ability emerge early and influence children’s interests” (2017), carried out by American researchers and whose results have been published in the journal Science. The study also reveals that 6-year-old girls are less likely than boys to believe that members of their gender are “really smart” and begin to avoid activities that they consider relative to “bright” children. The research concludes that cultural ideas about gender are acquired from an early age and these stereotypical notions they affect the interests of the little ones.

The study Attitude in children and adults about gender stereotypes in children’s toys (2008) also reveals that both girls and boys between 3 and 7 years old already relate toys to their gender influenced by traditional and gender factors acquired in the family, school and through the media. The conclusions of this research, carried out by academics from the University of Granada, indicate that it is necessary promote the training of educators towards gender equality, since their contribution in the classrooms is the best way to start eliminating sexist content in our culture.

Therefore, specialists on the subject consider that the role of the educational system and teachers, as well as the family, is fundamental for the transmission of values ​​of respect, tolerance and equality between women and men. Most agree that it is necessary to help schoolchildren to reflect and offer them strategies that allow them to prevent or eradicate inequality and, therefore, gender violence from their intimate, personal and social environment.

In fact, in the last modification of the LOMCE of March 23, 2018 it refers to the need “to develop, at school, the values ​​that promote effective equality between men and women, as well as the prevention of gender violence.” It also stresses that school boards must “propose measures and initiatives that favor coexistence in the center, equality between men and women, equal treatment and non-discrimination “.

In Primary and especially in Early Childhood Education, students have a great receptivity when it comes to learning, which is why they constitute the ideal stages for boys and girls to assimilate egalitarian behavior patterns, explains María Amparo Rosa Torres, teacher at the “El Molí” Infant School in Paterna, Valencia, in her article “Educational strategies to avoid gender discrimination”, (2009), published in the magazine Compartim, of the Service of Formació del Professorat de la Generalitat Valenciana.

Center policies based on coeducation and equality plans

Establishing coeducation as a pedagogical proposal of the center constitutes the most suitable educational policy to educate in equity of genre from school, according to the participants in this monograph. In coeducation, training and education are given under conditions of equality for both sexes and there are no limits to the learning of each of them. “The coeducational school aims to eliminate stereotypes between the sexes by overcoming social inequalities and cultural hierarchies between girls and boys,” according to the Coeducation Guide: Synthesis on Education for Equal Opportunities between Women and Men (2008), from the Institute for Women.

It is therefore necessary that in the educational environment work on coeducation and co-responsibility from an early age and at all educational levels, according to specialists. This requires the involvement of the entire educational community of the center and implement among all its members a whole school coeducational project.

“There are many, almost infinite, strategies, plans and actions that can be carried out in schools. All of these become effective the sooner they begin to be implemented among students in Early Childhood and Primary Education. But it should not be exclusive of these stages, since this can and should continue to be treated and updated throughout the entire educational system including, why not, the university environment “, they consider in their Article for this monograph the professors and researchers of the AREA research group (HUM-672), of the Department of Didactics and School Organization, of the University of Granada.

Investigations like the study Gender differences in educational outcomes: measures taken and current situation in Europe (2010), from the Executive Agency for Education and Culture (ACEA Eurydice), reveal that the school system continues to reproduce gender stereotypes and sexism through aspects such as: the organization of the center itself, the attitudes and expectations of the faculty, academic curriculum, teaching materials, space, teaching methodologies, etc.

Education experts affirm that in order to work on gender equality from school it is necessary to carry out center policies aimed at coeducation, and also equality plans. They are already being carried out in various educational centers, but their implementation would have to be generalized.

The process to carry out an equality plan consists of three main phases that can be started consecutively: the gender equality diagnosis in the educational center, the design and implementation of the equality plan and monitoring and evaluation of it, indicates the Institute for Women and for Equal Opportunities in its publication Equality Education. Methodological proposal on coeducation (2015), where resources are also collected to work on gender equality in the classroom, as well as coeducation courses and blogs for teachers.

The sources investigated for this report and the participants in this monograph coincide in carrying out center policies such as the following:

  • Include the equality of women and men in the educational project of the center, in the curricular programs and in the assignment of responsibilities and spaces.
  • Periodically carry out training for teachers in coeducation and strategies to promote gender equality education.
  • Select non-sexist school materials, textbooks, pedagogical resources and educational projects, as well as working on contents that promote the values ​​of equality, such as, for example, songs, books, references and models that contribute to offering a new vision that is more in line with equality between the sexes.
  • Stipulate that teachers avoid treating boys and girls differently in class based on their gender and motivate them to participate equally in classroom tasks and share responsibilities in the same way.
  • Encourage neutral toys and games in and out of class, cooperative and shared. It would be necessary to establish, as a center policy, that the patios be coeducational, that is, that they have three well-differentiated spaces: an area for quiet play, another for movement and psychomotor skills, and another for experimentation with nature.
  • Collaborate with and train families to provide them with guidelines and criteria to practice at home to avoid sexist stereotypes.

“All of this must entail a comprehensive plan in each center in which families are also involved, as well as the different agents involved in education, teachers and management teams. In addition, everything must be based on a system that can be evaluated over time and the implementation of the different plans“, they add in His article for this monograph the professors and researchers of the AREA research group (HUM-672), of the Department of Didactics and School Organization, of the University of Granada.

For its part, Ainara Madariaga, Head of Equality at Colegio Berrio-Otxoa Ikastetxea, from Bilbao, and interviewed in this monograph, considers it necessary that as a center policy there is a work team dedicated to coeducation, that has a close relationship with the management team and with the teaching staff to work together.

Resources and good practices to educate in equality

In a recent study of the European Institute of Gender Equality (EIGE) (2017) those responsible are encouraged …