Commenting after the debate on Motion 48, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:
“While there has been over 40 years of advancements in equality between the sexes, in recent years there has been something of a step back. The ‘size zero’ phenomenon and gender stereotyping are on the rise. This is not the way to be bringing up half the population.
“The law may have provided equality but society hasn’t. A survey by the think tank IPPR showed that women are still being left behind both in work and at home.
“The consequences of gender stereotyping and the sexualisation of girls in media today are very real. Stereotypical views of what girls and boys ‘should’ like and do are established early so it is never too soon to start challenging these ideas.
“The NUTs Breaking the Mould project, in which the National Union of Teachers has worked with a small group of primary schools to consider how ‘traditional’ gender stereotypes could be challenged in the classroom through reading materials, is a really useful resource. The books include for instance ‘The Paper Bag Princess’, who does all the fighting of dragons.
“Boys and girls should have an equal chance in life and believe that they can do whatever they wish to. Schools can open up those horizons for both sexes. It has always been the role of teachers to ensure that every child does their best so if girls feel that they can’t do some things then that is a problem. We need to do all we can to ensure that girls feel safe and secure to develop to their full potential.”
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