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Challenging gender stereotypes & becoming a Gender Action Supporter

We have always placed high importance throughout our history on ensuring that all young people can reach their full potential. Since becoming co-educational in 1983, the school has ensured that all of our pupils can access a full range of opportunities, irrespective of gender. Both girls and boys are encouraged to flourish (academically and personally), promoting gender equality and making sure no student’s choice is limited by gender stereotypes.

Mr Simm, Head of Physics, decided to investigate the proportion of girls reading Physics at A Level. He found that in Lower Sixth at King Edward’s Sixth Form the percentage of girls studying physics was 4.7% higher than the national average (2019).

Pleased with finding King Edward’s is above average in terms of girls studying Physics, we are still determined to increase the appeal of STEM subjects and improve gender balance across all of our subjects. In the current Lower Sixth, which has an equal ratio of girls to boys, girls are the majority in Chemistry and Biology with 64% & 63% students respectively.

The school has already invested in teacher training to minimise the possibility of gender stereotyping and unconscious bias within the classroom and around the school. We have also used our whole school assemblies to highlight key themes of gender equality and challenge the presence of stereotypes in day-to-day life, education and careers.

Furthermore, the History department have focused on covering more material in teaching that directly relates to women, such as the experience of women during World War One.

Our Economics department have talented female and male leaders of the school’s Economic Society who are committed to raising the profile of feminist economics and the contribution of female economists to the advancement of the discipline. Issues such as the gender pay gap and the connection between gender equality and economic development are an integral part of IGCSE and A level teaching, and the subject reading lists reflect the increasing and overdue influence of women in academic economics.

Computing is assessing how it can increase its appeal and uptake among girls, starting with using increased references to female computer scientists and more materials that are balanced in gender.

Most recently, to promote everything we are doing to tackle gender stereotyping – we are proud to announce that we have become an Official Gender Action Supporter.

Gender Action is an award programme which promotes and supports a whole-school approach to challenging stereotypes. Founded by King’s College London, The Institute of Physics (IOP), University College of Modern Languages (UCML) and The Institute of Education (UCL), the initiative exists to help every school environment to offer choices and opportunities freely; not edited through a gender filter.

As part of this programme, we have pledged to continue work to ensure gender balance and to:

  • Acknowledging we all have different skills and abilities
  • Not making assumptions about who people are and what they are interested in
  • Being aware that all books, sports and colours are for everyone
  • Actively thinking about the words we use when talking to others
  • Speaking up and challenging things we think are unfair

Students can expect to see posters around the school, encouraging all to take part in eliminating any gender stereotypes at King Edward VI School.