How to handle the gender issue in class
- Become more conscious of your own actions: are you reacting differently to the same behaviour in boys and girls?
- Do not expect that all girls will be academically able purely because girls perform better as a group. Gender is only one of the factors affecting performance: middle-class boys regularly out-perform working-class girls.
- From early years onwards, encourage pupils to question stereotypical gender assumptions. They usually welcome the opportunity for such discussions, as gender is a large, often unfathomable, part of their lives.
- Male teachers should not focus solely on matey joking with the boys in case they exclude the girls.
- Male teachers can break down gender stereotypes by expressing an interest in books and activities traditionally seen as feminine.
- Try to stop pupils making gendered choices in vocational subjects by providing thorough careers advice for them. For example, do girls know how poorly paid nursery nursing is compared with plumbing?
- Build up links between secondary schools and nurseries. If 15-year-old boys have to work with four-year-olds, they are more likely to consider careers in social care.
- Be aware that girls often police each others' ability to conform. Make it clear that such behaviour will be treated as bullying.
- Consider allowing pupils to wear trainers to school. They are socially acceptable and gender-neutral, so will allow even the coolest girls to run around as freely as boys.
Reassessing Gender and Achievement by Becky Francis and Christine Skelton (Routledge, 2005) Lads and Ladettes in School by Carolyn Jackson (Open University Press, 2006)
Frogs and Snails and Feminist Tales by Bronwyn Davies (Hampton Press, 2003)
The Sexual Paradox by Susan Pinker (Atlantic, 2008).