|Methodology to Eliminate Sexual Stereotypes from Educational Materials (UNIFEM - UNICEF - UNFPA, 73 p.)|
Textbooks, childrens tales, stories, illustrations, posters and teaching guides are determining factors in the teaching/learning process, given the support which they provide to teachers in their daily tasks and the effect caused on the student.
The messages transmitted, characters presented and language used, directly affect the student, opening a window towards life and references with which to identify.
Several studies undertaken throughout the world, and more recently in Central America, have demonstrated that textbooks for various subjects used in primary school are loaded with sexist and stereotyped images and messages. These tend to show men and women, boys and girls performing rigidly different roles. In such a division, males develop active, productive and creative roles which receive a much higher social and economical value; while females or women are less represented and are usually doing traditional tasks. This turns women into individuals solely responsible for child care and education, household chores, and all those other services which help to give comfort to the family.
These models of identification stimulate and guide boys towards broader and more ambitious goals, while girls only assimilate the roles exclusively reserved for them such as maternity and the formation of a family. Educational materials which transmit superiority and freedom messages for males and inferiority and dependency messages for women will obviously cause a self-devaluation effect among women. Teaching materials, on the other hand, should show men and women as human beings, with their own assets and liabilities, limitations and potentials, without privileges due to their sex, because boys and girls, from an early age, must learn that their model of life is not determined by sex but rather by individual talent and personal interest.
The flexibility and expansion of sexual roles for both sexes, will enable them to better develop their capabilities as individuals in order to reach a wider range of goals which, in turn, will translate into improved personal satisfaction, equality and human solidarity in social relations. Additionally, this will help teachers to reach the objective of developing a teaching style which will foster and encourage equity, equal opportunities and, in general, democracy in and out of the classroom.
One of the recommendations arising from the above mentioned studies refers to the organization of workshops for authors, writers, illustrators and editors of educational textbooks and materials, including teachers, to examine stereotyped contents and messages in order to identify the problem, form an opinion and develop awareness towards change for future editions.
This workshop aims to respond to the above and has been prepared by UNICEF-UNIFEM Womens Education Project on the basis of results rendered by studies undertaken in different Central American countries and which disclosed the problem of discrimination found in school books, towards girls and women, by transmitting and reinforcing values, beliefs and attitudes impregnated with messages of devaluation and invisibility for them.