roles. It began by defining stereotypes: “a widely held but oversimplified belief about a person or a thing”. This idea was concretized by asking students for examples of stereotypes about dogs, cats, and then people who ride motorcycles, to allow them to work through somewhat for themselves what does and does not count as a stereotype. We were able to clarify the differences between a stereotype and a rumor, and then made sure to point out that although something might be a stereotype, it does not mean that every member of X group conforms (for example, not all cats are mean, not all dogs like water, not all bikers wear leather). Once we had the idea of stereotypes down, we moved on to gender roles. Gender roles were basically defined as the “stereotypical” things that men and women were expected to do and enjoy based on their culture. We placed heavy emphasis on the fact that this is culture-dependant. After going over the most common gender roles (men work outside the home, women take care of the children and the household, etc.), we then went over a few places around the world and in time where the gender roles are not defined as they are in America and in most of the world, including the Chambri people of New Guinea who were studied extensively by Margaret Mead, and the Kibbutzim tribes of Israel, in which no real division of labor exists. To wrap up the presentation we quickly went over a few examples of third-genders around the world. These were presented as expressions of self in situations where a person’s desires and identity does not match up with the cultural expectations of them in regards to their gender performance.
The activity for this lesson, as with every lesson, was designed to reinforce the ideas in the lesson. In this case, that was that stereotypes, and by extension gender roles, are not always accurate and in many cases can be restrictive. We first gave each student two small slips of paper (a 3x5 index card cut in half) and asked them to write a stereotype about girls on one slip and a stereotype about boys on the other. When they were done, we collected the slips and put them all into a bucket. All the students stood in a group in the center of the room. One by one stereotypes were drawn at random from the slips taken from the students. Then the students were told to separate based on their preferences. For example, if a stereotype was that boys like to play outside, the students went to one side of the room if they enjoy outside play and the other if they preferred playing inside. They then had to guess whether this was a boy or a girl stereotype (which they often got wrong), and with every example we pointed out that no group was comprised of totally boys or totally girls. This helped to make sure they understood the main lesson objective, which is that stereotypes are at best inaccurate, and at worst harmful.
To see and download the exact powerpoint, lesson plan, and activity used in this blog, you can do so by clicking the links below!