It’s 2020 and supposedly, the world is more educated and open minded than ever. Or is it? Too regularly, I see adverts for dolls on the television with not one boy in them and children’s clothes shops split into two clear halves, the pink side and the blue side. In this day and age, what message does this send to young boys about what girls’ interests are and therefore the expectations they have of us when they are grown up? And of course there are examples the other way too. This sets the scene the rest of our lives. As someone who’s experienced sexual discrimination and a maternal woman who wanted children, enjoyed cooking and wanted to make a nice home, is my voice heard as a hard working professional and inventive business owner?

As educationalists, parents and guardians, I feel its our duty to be more aware of this issue of gender bias towards our children from the day they are born (or actually, even earlier) and start to make small, conscious changes that could have a hugely positive impact on our children’s upbringing, confidence levels and ultimately, their identity.

I want young girls and boys to know that they are in control of their destinies, that having an education is the most important factor in starting that journey and I want them to know where to go for advice. Choice, respect and independence are values that are central to the ethos of my nurseries. It is an outlook on life to nurture and practice, so that all genders, all sexual orientations, all people of all cultures live with each other harmoniously and respectfully.

There are some small changes can everyone make, right now, to help to break down stereotypes and allow our children freedom of choice and they are nuances that we promote within our nurseries daily:

  • Actively challenge stereotypes when you hear them? Why can’t boys dress up as princesses?
  • Use inclusive language like ‘their’ rather than ‘his’ or ‘hers’ and use gender neutral names for roles such as ‘police officer’
  • How do we describe children? Are the boys being boisterous today? Avoid terms like this and use more gender neutral descriptors
  • And as educators, we must stop dividing our classes into groups of ‘boys and girls’ but find other, gender neutral ways to create groups, like alphabetically, or by age

It’s time to change. At Yorkshire Montessori we pride ourselves in creating a safe space for children to develop however they want to. Find out more by booking a virtual tour today.