An article in yesterday’s Observer magazine on the absence of male teachers in primary schools concludes with some incredibly disheartening remarks from a number of young boys on the roles of men and women:
Thomas wants men to teach, but he doesn’t want to be a teacher, even if it were a choice between that or staying at home. Why? He and his friends, like the children in Nottinghamshire and those in London, have deeply ingrained stereotypical thoughts about the roles of men and women. One little boy at St Alban’s school suggests that men are not suited to teaching because they should do ‘harder jobs’. Elsewhere, children believe that boys are better suited to ‘football and rugby’.
Back on the Isle of Wight, Oliver, Thomas and their friend Kieran talk about what jobs they think women are best suited to. ‘Housework,’ they say one by one. ‘Or maybe a nurse,’ adds Thomas as an afterthought.
These kids are under ten years old. Looks like we’ve got an awful lot of work to do if we want to break free of the gender stereotyping that restricts both men and women’s opportunities in all areas of society.