It’s clear from the last post that we have a bit of work to do around gender bias. Most of the children thought doctors should be boys. When I asked them about nurses, the majority thought nurses should be -you guessed it – girls. I went on the hunt for some books that represented both genders in each of the careers. I read them to the children and we discussed how anyone can do any job regardless of whether you are a boy or a girl. After reading the books and looking at the pictures, the children agreed that boys and girls can be either doctors or nurses.
When it came time to take out some dress-up clothing, you can imagine how disappointed I was to find a pink nurse’s outfit and a blue doctor’s outfit from our supply of clothing. Up until now, we have been talking about how colours are just colours. There are no “boy colours” or “girl colours.” I was almost not going to use the nurse outfit, thinking this would reinforce the gender bias and “undo” some of our discussion. Instead, I decided to use this opportunity to find out what the children thought…not without some strategic planning though! I decided to wear a pink shirt on the day we would be discussing this. Luckily, a few of the children noticed what I was wearing, pointed it out, and didn’t think it was big deal. BUT the pink nurse’s outfit was a big deal to them. We took a look at the supplier’s website to see who was wearing the pink nurse outfit – a girl. The children didn’t think this was right and a few children wanted to write a letter. Here was the perfect opportunity for some authentic writing:
“…It’s not fair for boys. You should put a boy (nurse) and a girl (nurse) (on your website). Colours are for everyone.”
Colours are for everyone. Colours share. What more is there to say? I told the children I would send the letters to the manufacturer. This really excited them. When I asked them what they thought might happen, some said the colours might change, while others thought boys would be wearing the pink nurse’s uniform on the website.
In the meantime, some of the boys are nurses in our doctor’s office and some girls are doctors….just the way it should be.