The Improving Gender Balance team in Scotland recently ran a nationwide competition challenging primary aged pupils to answer the question “Gender stereotypes: are they fair?”.
The brief was intentionally open, to allow pupils to use their creativity and imagination to respond however they wished. They did not disappoint.
In the few weeks the competition was running, we received more than 170 entries from all over Scotland, ranging from raps to board games, plays to posters, animations to live performances. The entries displayed an overwhelming amount of knowledge and passion for the topic.
It was really exciting to see the amount of work that schools and pupils were putting into researching and discussing this issue. Judging was understandably tough, but with the aid of colleagues from Skills Development Scotland and Equate Scotland we managed to whittle the entries down to a winner and a runner up from P1–3 and the same for P4–7.
The P4–7 winners, Katie and Craig, wrote a letter to a major card company asking them to provide a less stereotypical selection of cards for their customers. They expertly backed up their argument with data from a pupil survey they had carried out showing that girls and boys tended to prefer different things to those portrayed by the usual stereotypes.
The P1-3 winners were Melissa and Rebekah, two sisters who created a poster featuring a boy playing with dolls and a girl playing football with the inspired slogan “Is this wrong or are we making this wrong?”. We felt that the phrase succinctly summarised our feelings about gender stereotypes, we so were pleased to give the sisters a prize. The winners were presented with trophies and vouchers for Letterbox Library, which provides books celebrating equality and diversity.
Runners up were Liam in P6 who designed a colourful poster calling for a stop to gender stereotyping and a P3 trio, Caitlin, Ivan and Fiona, who designed a playhouse for girls and boys with lots of consideration around colours and advertising so that it didn’t appeal to only girls or boys. We also gave special mentions to three other pupils whose posters were too good not to recognise!
We hoped the competition would raise awareness of the work that IGB Scotland are doing to empower pupils, teachers and local authorities to address the complex issues that can lead to gender stereotyping. The response has been very encouraging. It reiterated to us that, given the stimulus and opportunity, pupils of all ages, and their teachers, are willing and able to have passionate and articulate discussions about their desire for gender equality. We will do our best to help those conversations to continue and expand over the next year.