In Sweden there’s a school named “Egalia” that became an emblem of Gender Neutral Schooling. At Egalia, every detail – from the type of toys to the proposed activities – is studied to make sure children don’t fall into gender stereotypes. The most surprising thing is that the words “girl”, “boy”, “he”, “she” are never used, since each of the 33 kids attending the school is addressed with gender-neutral words.
The debate around Gender Neutral Education is vivid. While it is widely accepted we need to do more for gender equality (and certainly Sweden is one of countries doing more about it) the Egalia approach sounds too ideological to many.
A while ago we talked about an adorable little girl complaining about a pink hoven and about the fact that pink toys are considered for girls only. Well, she’s not alone. McKenna Pope, a 13-year-old girl from New Jersey, launched a petition on change.org asking that Hasbro make his Easy-Bake Oven gender-neutral, so that his little brother, and all the other boys who liked cooking, could use it without feeling it “wrong.”
Her petition was a success, showing there is a critical mass of people who care about the issue (44 000 signed the petition), and Hasbro created a black-and-silver prototype of the oven, which is expected to go on sale on February.
Toys and games play a great role in shaping our image of society, and we believe it’s time we stop reinforcing the gender stereotypes through the way we market toys. Some little boys will become chefs, and some little girls engineers, and the toys they use should reflect the steps society has done towards gender equality.
It all starts with children, and so toy makers, publishers, educators and parents play an extremely important role in promoting an equal vision of society amongst new generations, and there is a lot they can do, for instance applying an excellent method such as Montessori’s, like Persephone Magazine suggests.
What are you doing to promote gender equality in your family? We’d love you to share best practices.