Review stereotypes or messages that you may hear about boys or girls (e.g., boys are better at math, girls are better cooks, boys are better at building, etc.). Discuss the history behind these generalizations. Identify people you know who defy the traditional stereotypes about what males and females do well.


Help children analyze television by watching shows and discussing some salient points. Identify the main characters. How many males and females are there as main characters? Who talks more? Who has the more important roles? Who do you like best? Why? What is the main idea behind the show? What are the strong and weak points in the show?

Observe television commercials. Who do the advertisements target? How many advertisements focus on females, and on males? How are men and women portrayed (appearance and roles)? How are they similar and different? Are the advertisements realistic? Are they effective? How might you change them?

Watch a news program. Count the number of male and female reporters. Who talks more? Who tells the most important stories? Who are the anchors? Who reports the weather and who reports the sports? Who are the subjects of the news stories (by gender and other areas of diversity)?


As you drive with your child, analyze the radio shows. How often do you hear female voices? Who tells the news, a male or a female? Do you hear more male voices in advertising spots than female? Are certain radio stations more equitable? Whose voice do you like to hear? Do the roles of males and females change with the style of show (news, information, music, sports)? Discuss these findings with your child and explore her or his ideas for making radio more equitable.


Ask to visit your child's (or grandchild's, niece's, nephew's) school and observe in his/her classroom. Notice the displays as you enter the building. Are there more males than females displayed on bulletin boards? If it's a secondary school, are the halls filled with male sports trophy showcases or are there equitable displays focusing on female accomplishments? How is the classroom arranged? Are genders isolated or grouped together or is there integration in the seating arrangement? Observe the bulletin boards in the classroom. Are there posters that only showcase one gender or is it equitable? Observe the teacher. Is he/she equitable in calling on students? (This will require keeping a careful tally of who talks in class.) Do the boys call out more frequently than the girls or is it equal? Talk with your child (or grandchild, niece, nephew) about your visit. Ask for the child's perceptions on these areas. Are those perceptions congruent with your findings? If not, how do you explain the differences? You may want to share your findings with school officials. Use your conversation time to talk about gender equity and what it means.


Review chores and major responsibilities in your home (e.g., who cooks, who cleans up, who takes the trash out). Are these tasks gender generated? Exchange roles for one day. How did it feel? Did you like doing something different? Is it a good idea to exchange responsibilities and try different tasks or do you always like to do the same things?


Take a child to a toy store. Before you go create an observation form together that describes the type of information that you want to collect when you visit the store. For example, are store sections labeled BOYS and GIRLS? Are dolls in one area and action figures in another? Are there more boys shopping in one section than girls? Who is pictured on toy packaging? When you return home, share your results and discuss what you learned about children and children's toys.


Review your actions and responses when dealing with boys and girls. Do you praise your female child or family member more for her looks than her competencies? Do you encourage problem solving for your daughter or do you tend to enable and immediately help solve the problem? How do you treat your male child or family member? Do you praise his looks more than his thinking ability? Do you tend to buy presents that are gender-specific (in the traditional sense)? Do you purchase birthday cards or birth congratulatory cards that focus on gender and traditional stereotypes (i.e., that girls are sweetness and spice and boys are rough and tough)? Do you subtly impose stereotypical expectations on your child or family members? Do you believe it is important to change these patterns? Why or why not? How would you change these patterns? How sensitive are you to other persons' comments or statements that may be gender biased? For example, do you accept hearing from your child's teacher such statements as "he's all boy" or she's a "typical girl."

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