Tack­ling gen­der stereo­types

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - By Tom Herbert tom.herbert@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

CHAL­FONTS Com­mu­nity Col­lege will be tack­ling gen­der stereo­types dur­ing a spe­cial day to­mor­row (Septem­ber 18) for Year 11 pupils.

Great Peo­ple Day is part of a Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion pro­ject de­signed to ex­plore, and tackle, cer­tain stan­dards at a ‘cru­cial’ stage in the young­sters lives.

For ex­am­ple, or­gan­is­ers hope to un­der­stand why there is a greater pre­v­e­lance for males to choose maths and physics at school and for fe­males to choose English and bi­ol­ogy.

Dr Jes­sica Hamer, pro­ject of­fi­cer on the im­prov­ing gen­der bal­ance pro­ject, ex­plained that to­mor­row the boys will be tak­ing part in work­shops run by a group called Great Men, ex­plor­ing themes such as pos­i­tive mas­culin­ity and con­sent and how to han­dle dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions.

The girls will be un­der­tak­ing a net­work­ing day, which Dr Hamer de­scribed ‘as a bit like speed dat­ing with pro­fes­sional women’, in­volv­ing as­pi­ra­tions.

She said: “We have some fan­tas­tic women com­ing in, in dif­fer­ent ar­eas do­ing fan­tas­tic stuff.

“It’s all part of im­prov­ing gen­der bal­ance and ex­plor­ing what works and doesn’t work.”

Dr Hamer works for the In­sti­tute of Physics but for two days in the week is based in school.

She said: “We put in place in­ter­ven­tions so that girls chose physics. We have also been run­ning work­shops across year groups look­ing at gen­dered lan­guge.” Ac­cord­ing to Dr Hamer, since she has been in­volved with the pro­ject last Septem­ber the school has no­ticed a sharp in­crease in the num­ber of girls choos­ing physics - last year only two girls chose the sub­ject for their AS Level, but this year there are now six girls do­ing AS Level physics.

“I think we’re re­ally start­ing to see the dif­fer­ence,” she said.

Dr Hamer said: “The knock on im­pact is that be­cause we talk about gen­der and stere­typ­ing we hope there will be a pos­tive im­pact on those other sub­jects as well.”

“It could be, let’s say, the next Jamie Oliver who’s choos­ing not to take food tech­nol­ogy be­cause he’s too em­bar­rassed, or there could be the next Marie Curie, but they wouldn’t have that op­por­tu­nity be­cause they wouldn’t choose that sub­ject in the first place,” she said.

“We have the low­est num­ber of fe­male engi­neers in the whole of Europe, so it’s some­thing the gov­ern­ment is very keen to ex­plore how we can in­crease the num­bers.”

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