|Methodology to Eliminate Sexual Stereotypes from Educational Materials (UNIFEM - UNICEF - UNFPA, 73 p.)|
The facilitator presents the objectives, contents and working methodology for this topic. Flipcharts should be used and placed in a location visible for the whole group.
- To assist participants to identify easily the roles and stereotypes which on the basis of sex or gender are assigned to women and men and which become an internal part of the process of socialization.
- To make participants aware of the fact that roles and stereotypes are not inherent to a biological or natural order condition, but rather the result of social and cultural construction, with consequences which go as far as personal, family and social development.
- Biological and anatomical differences of men and women
- Gender roles and the image of women and men
- Personal, family and social consequences
Presentation, by the groups, during the plenary session, of the results of their work. The facilitator directs the analysis towards the objectives of the topic.
Support can be found in the reading: Sexual Roles and Stereotypes. Socialization.
TIME: 2 hours
Exercise No. 1
- White sheets of paper
- Cards or small sheets of paper
- Paper markers
- Large sheets of paper
- Masking tape
- Support document
- Scotch tape
Exercise No. 2
- Meditation/reflection lists. One for each participant
- Support reading
DYNAMICS FOR GROUP ORGANIZATION
The plenary session is divided into five sub-groups of five individuals each, using one of the alternatives suggested below:
The facilitator has in her/his hands a small box with coin-shaped chewing gum of five different colors, five of each color (these may be substituted by candy of different flavors, cards or original figures).
B. STROLLING IN THE COUNTRYSIDE
The participants form a circle and walk or turn to the right; the facilitator, placed in the middle, walks inside of the circle as if he/ she were strolling in the countryside, repeating the words I was strolling in the countryside when I suddenly met two monkeys. Upon listening the word two, the participants get into couples. The facilitator again asks them to form a circle and to walk, this time, to the left; the facilitator continues strolling in the countryside until he/she finds three parrots, and the participants form groups of three. Again, while the facilitator walks inside of the circle, to the right, he/she runs into four cats and the participants will form quartets. In a new walk through the countryside, the circle once gain walks to the left and the facilitator runs into five birds; then, groups of five will have been formed to work together.
The participants are simply numbered from 1 to 5 and those numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 make up each group.
Below is a series of exercise which, with the help of the facilitator, will lead the group to analyze and discuss what are stereotypes and the process by which they are formed.
EXERCISE No. 1
IDEAS AND BELIEFS
This alternative puts us in contact with the ideas which represent what people believe regarding what is a woman and what is a man and what is expected from them by our society. Thus, the participants will be able to see the models or images which we continuously reproduce of one and the other.
For 15 minutes, during a brainstorming session and in agreement with what we commonly hear at home, in the streets, at work, school and social meetings regarding men and women, their most relevant characteristics, etc., the most common ideas are sought and for each idea representing a man, another idea will be sought for a woman.
Each group will select three characteristics for a man and three for a woman.
The group is given pieces of paper or cards to write, separately, the male and female characteristics.
Each group decides who is going to be its representative to present their work during the plenary session.
Again, in the plenary meeting, four volunteers are invited: 2 women and 2 men.
One man and one woman draw a silhouette of his/her mate who will be standing with their back towards the wall where large sheets of paper have been pasted in advance, to draw the silhouettes of a man and a woman.
The representatives of each group render a report, to the plenary session, on the results of their work and place on the corresponding silhouette of the man or woman, the cards with the characteristics chosen by the group for each.
The exercise can also be made placing the cards directly (using scotch or masking tape) on the body of two individuals, one man and one woman, as follows:
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When the groups have finished placing their cards, the facilitator asks the group to make an analysis and discover positive differences for some and negative differences for others. For the purpose one may count the number of characteristics valued by society as positive and the number of negative features assigned to each. A difference will be noted whereby male characteristics have a higher value. Resulting therefrom that such differences are translated into rigid models of what is considered as a man and a woman, opening a gap which separates the world in two: female and male. This has advantages for some and disadvantages for others affecting the development of boys and girls and of society in general.
Subsequently, the group participates and begins to withdraw all of the characteristics believed to be stereotypes, particularly the negative ones. The images left will only have positive values. The opportunity is taken to emphasize the objectives of the workshop: to overcome sexual stereotypes.
This exercise may also be made without having to draw silhouettes. In this case, the cards are pasted, with scotch tape, on the clothes of volunteers (one man and one woman).
EXERCISE No. 2
The participants are given the lists given below and the groups are asked to analyze them according to every-day life events.
The first list contains certain phrases which help to identify stereotypes; the second list refers to gifts or toys which are usually given to girls and boys, this list serves to direct the work and establish the time when the process of socialization begins to direct male and female roles. The third list contains the work usually performed by men and women. This will help with the analysis of traditional roles and their consequences at the personal, family and social level. A fourth list refers to the roles of men and women in the household and in public life.
Reflection is now directed to establish the sexual division of work; stereotypes which have arisen from this situation and their repercussions at the level of personal development for men and women. It also helps to explain that such makes one believe that the world of women is private and the world of men is public, as well as the dual working shift of women who participate in the sector of remunerated labor.
LIST No. 1
The group analyzes the following sentences and determines which of them are stereotypes and which are sexual stereotypes:
- Boys are more intelligent than girls in math
- The man is the astronaut
LIST No. 2
Make a list of presents usually given to:
LIST No. 3
In the following list, the group will identify the roles commonly played by men and women:
LIST No. 4
HOUSEHOLD LIFE AND PUBLIC LIFE
Activities which are performed in everyday life by the members of a family. Mark with an X the roles corresponding to men or women
Taking care of the ill
Work outside of the home
Participation in Labor Unions
Participation in Political Parties
Percentage of men and women working in their own shop, office or trade
Number of women chiefs and number of men chiefs
Number of congressmen in the country
How many are women and how many are men
How many Ministries work in the country
How many are occupied by women and how many by men
How many municipalities exist in the country?
How many female mayors?
How many male mayors?
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ACTIVITY No. II
SOCIALIZATION, SEXUAL ROLES AND
To discuss the subject of sexual roles and stereotypes, in the first place, one must remember the fundamental differences between what has been called the biological sex and the social sex or gender, as well as the process whereby these roles and stereotypes are formed, transmitted and legitimized.
Sex refers to a natural biological condition. It is a physical and anatomical or constitutional condition of each individual, be it a man or a woman.
Sex corresponds to certain physiological characteristics. The basic differences are established at the time of conception by the union of chromosomes which give life to a new being; thus, in the case of a woman it is the result of the union of chromosome X of the mother and a chromosome X of the father. Man is formed by chromosome X of the mother and, in this case, a chromosome Y of the father.
This gives way to different corporal physical and physiological characteristics from the time of birth such as sex and reproduction organs and, later, in adolescence, to secondary sexual characteristics which do not change and are inherent to the individual.
This is the biological sex. But on such, different social and cultural functions have been established for men and women, and we learn about them through a process of socialization. Since these are not natural, they change depending on historical, social and cultural conditions under which the individuals are living.
The differentiation of social roles traditionally has been attributed to sex as something natural; in other words, gender differences have been established around the biological and anatomical differences. Gender is a category which gathers together all of the psychological, social and cultural features which make up what is known as femininity and masculinity.
The separation and differentiation of roles among the sexes begins at birth and continues to develop through the process of socialization, whose major function is to transmit and maintain values, standards, beliefs and attitudes which impose the dominating ideology of a pre-determined social system. These build, around biological differences, rigid standards and regulations for the feminine and the masculine models.
The process of socialization is the mechanism whereby different instances serve to reproduce, perpetuate and legitimize material and ideological conditions which prevail in the social system. The most important instances where this process takes place are: the family, education, religion, the media, political parties, labor market, associations and groups of equals; whose function is to make up, transmit, maintain and perpetuate values, beliefs, and attitudes which affect and determine the thoughts and actions of individuals.
Despite the changes which have taken place in recent years, the idea and practice of such traditional roles and sexual stereotypes persists and places woman at a disadvantage of opportunities and basic rights of every human being such as education, access to work and equitable wages, participation in politics and decision making.
The roles of gender are a part and product of culture and are so strongly rooted that it is very difficult to perceive that they have been learned, taking as a fact that they are part of nature itself and, therefore, of the corresponding sex or gender.
The family is the first social institution with which human beings come in contact. This is the place where values and beliefs begin to be transmitted to establish behavioral attitudes and guidelines.
From the time of birth, the individual receives different treatment depending on whether it is a girl or a boy. The difference become stronger in the following years during the childs development, directing it along life to the performance of different roles. In the family customs and treatment are different for girls and boys, games and attitudes are unequally oriented. The formation of boys emphasizes freedom, audacity, intelligence and imagination; while girls through imitation and games, are directed to develop what are called feminine qualities such as self-denial, submission, meekness, and seduction and their activities limit the development of their physical strength, intelligence, independence and autonomy, because these are considered to be masculine characteristics.
Games and toys largely contribute to learn the different roles. While the boy is given balls and mechanical toys to prepare him for his active, and dynamic role in public, the girl is given dolls, toy dishes and miniature cleaning articles to prepare her to adequately perform her role as a mother, wife, and individual responsible of household chores.
Thus, without pretending to be so, these innocent instruments impose stereotyped roles which result in preferential treatment as well as preparation and better opportunities for boys; and less possibilities for girls. This results in an actual decrease of their personal expectations and reduced development of their personal capabilities; their professional aspirations will be reduced to those which constitute the extension of their motherly role and service to others, roles which in the labor market are less valued economically and socially. Boys, on the other hand, will be sure of their rights and the need to continue to study and to work, tending towards professions of increased social prestige and the correspondingly increased remuneration.
In this manner, girls internalize the idea that they are weak and physically as well as intellectually inferior with respect to men and that their role in society is to serve the latter.
Education is another type of socialization which complements and reinforces this differential treatment between girls and boys translated in the assignment of functions and different activities which take sex as a parameter, but privileging one sex over the other. Some expressions of this sexist ideology can be found in education which fails to respond to the actual needs of society and maintains a cultural and human inferiority which in addition to being unfair also leads to the unfortunate loss of half of the human potential: women.
In the framework of formal education, the school is an institution which in a structured manner is charged with the referred to process of individual socialization. School serves to transmit values and beliefs which make up future attitudes and different behavioral guidelines, depending on sex.
School directly and indirectly affects the behavior of boys and girls to act according to their sex and not in agreement with their potential and capabilities.
Male and female teachers as members of this very same society and culture, subconsciously impregnated by this ideology, project it through their treatment of students and interaction in the classroom. Educational policies translated in the curriculum tend to reinforce this differentiation not only in its contents but also on the direct and indirect orientation towards different careers and goals depending on pre-determined social roles for women and for men.
Therefore, in general, girls are directed to perform manual, artistic and service activities, while boys are directed to the development of technical and scientific techniques as demonstrated by different courses or subjects having been introduced into the curriculum for boys and for girls.
During the first years of school, boys and girls develop concepts which serve as the basis for subsequent learning and acquisition of written language through reading. This is basic knowledge for subsequent learning; it is done by means of reading books, textbooks and teaching materials prepared by professors (male and female). These materials have direct influence on the students, given that they are windows through which to see the world. The personalities shown in these materials, become references with which the children identify.
Textbooks and auxiliary educational materials, tales and stories, make invisible and under-value women and girls, because they are not represented and because the contents of such are impregnated with messages of inferiority towards women.
Childhood literature researchers have proven that books of tales as well as textbooks show to the readers a world which apparently is inhabited only by men or a world in which women are never present. The roles shown are rigidly differentiated. Men develop active, productive, and creative roles, while women, as mothers, are charged with the care and education of children and the sick, clean, cook and provide comfort to the family.
The above, later on, is the result, at the time of choosing a career, that girls have expectations for their future which are not very ambitious and their professional options are reduced to those representing the extension of their role as mothers or housewives, professions which in the labor market are less valued economically as well as socially.
The explanation frequently given to this phenomenon is the lack of technical vocation on the part of women and a supposed lower capacity of girls for math and abstract sciences, when in fact, the election probably lies solely in the interiorization of behavioral patterns expected from girls, or guidelines of gender which favor different types of expectations for girls and for boys.