Tag Archives: Title IX – Gender Equity

All You Need Is Love? highlights a teen living in a world that exists in opposition to the one we live in now.

All You Need Is Love? highlights a teen living in a world that exists in opposition to the one we live in now.

In this short, the terms “gay” and “straight” and the conceptions and cultural stigmas attached to them are completely reversed. What makes this video so powerful is its inclusion of family and community, showing that intolerance can fester in any number of places. Honest performances and a beautiful message, this short film is one not to miss.

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Gender Equity Funding

Gender Equity Funding

During the past five years, The Myra Sadker Foundation  has awarded 26 grants to teachers and students working to promote gender equity in our nation and abroad. We are pleased to invite applicants for our 2013 funding cycle. We ask that you share these funding opportunities with your students, colleagues, and others who may be interested.

The Foundation sponsors 3 funding programs to promote gender equity:

  • doctoral dissertation awards
  • teacher grants for classroom projects
  • grants for student projects.

Descriptions of each award as well as application requirements can be found at http://www.sadker.org/awards.html.  Deadline for applications is December 15, 2012.

We appreciate all those who work to create fairness in our nation’s schools.



David Sadker

The Myra Sadker Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting equity in and beyond schools. By working to eliminate gender bias, the Foundation enhances the academic, psychological, economic and physical potential of America’s children. The Foundation supports research, training and special programs for teachers, parents, children and all those whose work and interests touch the lives of children.






The Myra Sadker Foundation

6988 N. Chula Vista Reserve Place

Tucson, Arizona 85704

520-297-2319   dsadker@gmail.com

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Girls for Gender Equity: Title IX Does Not Only Apply to Sports!

Girls for Gender Equity: Title IX Does Not Only Apply to Sports!

by Mandy Van Deven

An unfortunate oversight of the recent media attention on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) bullying is the advocacy potential that decades-old legislation has to prevent gender-based harassment in schools. Title IX of the Education Amendment is the federal civil rights law passed by the United States government in 1972 that prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funds.

Up until Title IX’s passage, men were receiving preferential treatment such as access to higher education, scholarship monies, and training in the fields of law and medicine. From kindergarten through graduate school, Title IX mandates gender parity in ten key areas including math, science, and technology; equal opportunities for students who are pregnant or parenting; and prevention of sexual harassment and assault.

In New York City, Girls for Gender Equity (GGE) has been advocating for increased school safety – a decade-long campaign led by parents, teachers, and female and LGBTQ students. And if there is one thing the teen women of color organizers at Girls for Gender Equity want you to know, it is that Title IX of the Education Amendment does not only apply to college sports – the area most associated with Title IX enforcement.

“It is hard to envision a school without sexual harassment. However, if one existed, I imagine it would be a place where kids can excel as students instead of having to worry about what is going to be said or done to them the next time they go in the hallway,” says former GGE youth organizer Kai Walker.

In April 2010 and April 2011 the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the US Department of Education released two “Dear Colleague” letters to “provide guidance” and “examples of remedies and enforcement strategies” for reported sexual harassment infractions in public schools. While this public acknowledgement from the Obama Administration is a step in the right direction, the tactic ultimately lacks teeth. The letters simply restate what the law already requires. It politely requests officials to increase their efforts at enforcement, but does not take steps to ensure mandatory application of the federal law. For all practical purposes, the “Dear Colleague” letters do not go beyond lip service.

Girls for Gender Equity organizers celebrating the launch of Hey, Shorty: A Guide to Combating Sexual Harassment and Violence in Schools and on the Streets. Photograph courtesy of the author.

As a result, grassroots organizations like GGE rely on the strength of the members of their own communities to hold schools accountable for failing to keep students safe. Nearly forty years after Title IX’s passage, GGE’s youth-led research project on sexual harassment in the New York City public schools found that nearly 1 in 4 students are sexually harassed in school every single day – with behaviors that range from verbal (71 percent) to physical (63 percent) to criminal sexual assault (10 percent).College student Kayla Andrews was a part of the research team. She says, “If given the golden opportunity to converse with President Obama regarding Title IX in public schools, I would first and foremost introduce him to a day in the life of students. I would tell him stories of how girls walk briskly to class out of fear of being harassed and boys who feel uncomfortable being their true selves because they fear ridicule and abuse.”

In Hey, Shorty: A Guide to Combating Sexual Harassment and Violence in Schools and on the Streets, GGE Community Organizer Nefertiti Martin recalls what it was like for her to be called homophobic slurs at school: “Before I even knew what gay was, somebody managed to find something to say about my limp wrists and effeminate lisp. Teachers and faculty tell me some lines about how sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me. But words have always hurt me.”

Chiamaka Agbasionwe agrees and shares about a classmate who “made me feel disgusted with myself. He made me second-guess what I wore that day, how my hair looked, and just me as a woman. His ‘compliments’ were insults knowing the disrespectful connotations behind them. His looks were knives through my self-esteem.”

Kayla wants President Obama to know about the lack of support for students who are sexually harassed at school. “I would make the President aware of just how difficult it is to find someone within the school who actually knows what Title IX is, much less follows the procedures for recording sexual harassment offenses,” she says.

GGE found that a mere 3 percent of students made a report after being sexually harassed, and 22 percent say they were further traumatized by school staff after making the report.? Over half say they did not know how students who sexually harassed others were dealt with at their school because there was no follow-up with them by school authorities. And less than 2 percent feel the perpetrator was dealt with appropriately.

“Enforcing Title IX alone cannot end sexual harassment, but it can mitigate it,” says GGE youth organizer Nkeya Peters. “The way it can be alleviated in public schools is by raising awareness and hiring social service workers to properly address the issue and its consequences.”

With Hey, Shorty!, Girls for Gender Equity seeks to broaden people’s understanding of Title IX and shine a light on the ineffectual nature of an unenforced federal law. As the group moves forward with its community-based work, Hey, Shorty! offers youth and adult allies nationwide an accessible guide to implement in their own schools and cities to combat unwanted sexual attention and LGBTQ bullying. The model they use shows that young women who are given adequate support can successfully mobilize to demand accountability in their schools. It demonstrates that safety does not have to be an impediment to an education.

“It takes living in the shoes of a sexually harassed student to know just how detrimental harassment can be to one’s education,” says Kayla. “If President Obama wants to address the issues in this country regarding education, he needs to start at the root of the problem, which includes the reasons why students avoid going to school in the first place.”

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Title IX has had big impact on sports scene

2011-06-23 20:40:54

Back in 1972, high school girls and college women wanted more of an equal footing for competition. It was a man’s world in sports. Females were mostly cheerleaders or spectators.

Perhaps they were involved in the Girls Athletic Association, namely intramurals.
Some men figured that was OK. I remember a highly respected boys high school basketball coach telling me girls shouldn’t be playing basketball. They should be supporting the boys – and that’s it.

Others saw it differently. They sought a way to change the playing field and make it more level. They worked to get women directly involved in playing those games we’ve cherished for years.

Title IX came to life and rocked the sports cradle. Adam’s Rib has come full circle. Anna’s Rib is just as important. Make no bones about it.

Part of the Higher Education Amendment Acts of June 23 of that year, the legislation changed the face of amateur sports. Suddenly, gender discrimination was outlawed.

The altered landscape allowed females an opportunity to make sports an important part of their lives. They could embrace it just like the guys.

“The largest impact of Title IX is in terms of participation and perception,” said Kathryn Olson, CEO of the Women’s Sports Foundation in San Francisco. She’s a graduate of Homewood-Flossmoor High in Chicagoland and the University of Illinois.

Olson said Thursday, “Before Title IX, there were one of 27 girls playing high school varsity sports. Now, you have two in five playing them. And participation in women’s college athletics has increased 500 percent.”

It’s nearly 40 years since Title IX arrived on the sports scene and although it has been cussed and discussed, it’s here to stay. The wording may get modified, but the general principle still holds:

You can’t cheat the women.

The law says so.

Schools must have substantial proportional representation in their athletic opportunities, show a history of providing those opportunities and accommodate athletic interests.

Sounds simple enough, eh? Maybe, maybe not.

Critics claim that Title IX has caused a reduction in men’s collegiate sports such as wrestling and baseball and that football should be a separate subject in the dialogue. The NCAA has refused to go down that road and for good reason.

Nobody wants to be accused of discrimination, no matter the situation.

“The law makes no statement about what sports should be in high school or colleges,” Olson said. “All we are asking for is that the opportunities be equal.”

John Cheslock, a senior research associate at Penn State, has studied Title IX and its impact extensively. Basically, he said the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.

His 2008 evaluation said that Tittle IX has increased college women’s sports participation without significantly decreasing men’s involvement.

“If you get some statisticians in the room, they can show there haven’t been large declines in men’s participation,” Cheslock said in his report.

And despite women’s gains in collegiate sports, they are seeking more of a voice. The National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education conducted a study showing that while women comprise 57 percent of the overall college population, only 42 percent of athletic opportunities are for them.

Thus, you go girls mean that females still have a ways to go.

Olson noted, “The law, as it is stated, is fine. There are more issues with compliance and inconsistencies there.”

If Olson had her way, everybody who desired to play sports could do so with unlimited zest and zeal.

“I want as many young boys and girls playing sports as much as possible,” she said. “There are very important benefits from athletics, whether it’s confidence, teamwork or leadership.

Olson added, “You learn about what you can do with your body. There’s a misconception that a girl who plays sports isn’t feminine.”

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How To Prevent Rape

How To Prevent Rape

By Kristen Holden

How to Prevent Rape

If a woman is drunk, don’t rape her.
If a woman is walking alone at night, don’t rape her.
If a women is drugged and unconscious, don’t rape her.
If a woman is wearing a short skirt, don’t rape her.
If a woman is jogging in a park at 5 am, don’t rape her.
If a woman looks like your ex-girlfriend you’re still hung up on, don’t rape her.
If a woman is asleep in her bed, don’t rape her.
If a woman is asleep in your bed, don’t rape her.
If a woman is doing her laundry, don’t rape her.
If a woman is in a coma, don’t rape her.
If a woman changes her mind in the middle of or about a particular activity, don’t rape her.
If a woman has repeatedly refused a certain activity, don’t rape her.
If a woman is not yet a woman, but a child, don’t rape her.
If your girlfriend or wife is not in the mood, don’t rape her.
If your step-daughter is watching TV, don’t rape her.
If you break into a house and find a woman there, don’t rape her.
If your friend thinks it’s okay to rape someone, tell him it’s not, and that he’s not your friend.
If your “friend” tells you he raped someone, report him to the police.
If your frat-brother or another guy at the party tells you there’s an unconscious woman upstairs and it’s your turn, don’t rape her, call the police and tell the guy he’s a rapist.
Tell your sons, god-sons, nephews, grandsons, sons of friends it’s not okay to rape someone.
Don’t tell your women friends how to be safe and avoid rape.
Don’t imply that she could have avoided it if she’d only done/not done x.
Don’t imply that it’s in any way her fault.
Don’t let silence imply agreement when someone tells you he “got some” with the drunk girl.

And if you are still confused, try this:

How to Prevent Sexual Assault

1. Don’t put drugs in people’s drinks in order to control their behavior.

2. When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone!

3. If you pull over to help someone with car problems, remember not to assault them!

4. NEVER open an unlocked door or window uninvited.

5. If you are in an elevator and someone else gets in, DON’T ASSAULT THEM!

6. Remember, people go to laundry rooms to do their laundry, do not attempt to molest someone who is alone in a laundry room.

7. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.

8. Always be honest with people! Don’t pretend to be a caring friend in order to gain the trust of someone you want to assault. Consider telling them you plan to assault them. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the other person may take that as a sign that you do not plan to rape them.

9. Don’t forget: you can’t have sex with someone unless they are awake!

10. Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone “on accident” you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can blow it if you do.

And, ALWAYS REMEMBER: if you didn’t ask permission and then respect the answer the first time, you are committing a crime- no matter how “into it” others appear to be.

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History Revisited: Yale sexual harassment complaint echoes Title IX case from 1970s

History Revisited
Connecticut Law Tribune
Monday, April 11, 2011


History Revisited: Yale sexual harassment complaint echoes Title IX case from 1970s


For Ann Olivarius, news that Yale University is being investigated for allegedly mishandling sexual harassment complaints brought back some memories.

In 1977, she was a plaintiff in a landmark suit against Yale that marked the first time sexual harassment claims were brought under Title IX, which bans gender discrimination at federally funded schools. The suit, along with a sensational 1976 protest by members of the women’s crew team, spurred the private, Ivy League school to institute changes that made it a recognized leader in Title IX enforcement.

Fast-forward 34 years and the school that educated five U.S. presidents and served as an incubator for the feminist movement now is accused again. Olivarius, a Rhodes Scholar who became a London-based, internationally respected lawyer, is not surprised.

“With Alexander v. Yale, we began to define the problem of sexual harassment, and we began to draw attention to it, but we did not solve it. And I think that we had no illusions back then that this would be an easy battle,” Olivarius said via e-mail of the suit that began in 1977. “Sexual misconduct is a slippery and insidious thing – it is difficult to prove and it is difficult to talk about.”

Lawyers and scholars with expertise in Title IX enforcement say the Yale allegations shine a spotlight on an issue that is hard to quantify and harder still for institutions to acknowledge. Complicating matters, some say, are First Amendment protections that make it difficult for institutions, particularly public ones, to rein in sexually charged speech.

The recent complaint is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. In it, the 16 complainants detail a history of incidents, including female freshmen being named and ranked in a “Pre-Season Scouting Report” e-mail based on the number of alcoholic drinks it would take to get them into bed. The complaint also recounts incidents in which male fraternity pledges shouted slogans at women encouraging rape, including “No means yes,” and stole T-shirts made by sexual assault victims.

Alice Buttrick, a 2010 graduate of Yale’s Jonathan Edwards College, sat on the board of the school’s Women Center when the “Pre-Season Scouting report” was sent out. She is currently working from Olivarius’ London law office on the Rhodes Project, a study of gender and achievement.

“Those women spent their first months at campus wondering which of the men in their classes or extracurriculars might be thinking of them as prey,” she recalled. “So, when the University failed to take any action to reassure the community, those women, that Yale valued them as people and felt that their personhood was worth defending, that was a huge blow.”

For its part, Yale last week announced the formation of a new committee to deal specifically with sexual misconduct complaints and said it will cooperate with the investigation. In an open letter to the college community, Yale College Dean Mary Miller said the school does not tolerate sexual harassment, has instituted a host of programs to combat it, and has meted out discipline as warranted after investigating “questionable” incidents.

‘Legal Balance’

Lawyers familiar with Title IX say the nature of sexual harassment itself makes it less easy to prove than gender inequities in sports, which can be tracked by numbers of athletes, teams and resources. Although Yale is a private school, public schools attempting to rein in offensive speech also must be mindful of the First Amendment.

“Schools must strike a legal balance between the rights of all of the parties involved,” said Patrice McCarthy, deputy director and general counsel for the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education.

Erin E. Buzuvis, an attorney and full-time faculty member at Western New England College School of Law in Springfield, Mass., said free speech guarantees do not trump a college’s duty to ensure students are not subjected to a hostile campus environment.

“Sexual harassment in the school context and other contexts has raised First Amendment challenges,” said Buzuvis, who has written extensively about Title IX and co-founded a blog site on the issue. “So far, those haven’t curtailed steps schools have been encouraged to take.”

One First Amendment scholar pointed out that Yale, as a private institution, is not constricted by constitutional free speech guarantees. Martin Marguiles, professor emeritus at Quinnipiac University School of Law and a cooperating attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, said public schools would have difficulty banning the fraternity taunts because they do not fall into any exception from free speech protections.

“Yale, however, is not a government actor,” he said. “Therefore, the First Amendment does not constrain it, and it may impose any sort of speech code it wishes as long as the code’s substantive and procedural provisions are consistent with the school’s contractual obligations to its students.”

Buzuvis said sexual harassment still has a tendency to fly under the radar years after it was catapulted into public consciousness by Anita Hill’s explosive allegations against then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. She said the legal strategy behind the current Yale complaint — aggregating the complaints of 16 women to point to an alleged pattern of unchecked abuse — presented a stronger case than if individuals filed separate complaints.

Locker Room Complaint

That strategy is reminiscent of Alexander v. Yale, in which five women alleged sexual assault and harassment by several faculty members. Like the current complaint, the 1977 suit did not seek damages but sought the university’s commitment to acknowledge the problem and establish a system to deal with it.

The suit was filed a year after the Yale women’s crew team captured international attention when members stripped to the waist and wrote the words Title IX on their breasts and backs to protest the lack of locker rooms.

Kristen Galles, who is co-litigating a Title IX athletic inequity case against Quinnipiac University with Pullman & Comley attorney Jonathan Orleans, said schools have a disincentive to take harassment claims and alleged assaults seriously. Under the federal Clery Act, schools must disclose all campus crimes, statistics which can cause potential students to shy away.

“Many, many schools try to cover this stuff up,” said Galles, whose practice is based in Virginia. “They don’t want complainers to report this stuff to police.”

Even though schools can be stripped of all federal funding under Title IX, Galles and Buzuvis said that’s never happened since the law was enacted in 1972. Instead, the threat is used to gain compliance. In Yale’s case, more than $500 million is at stake.

In Galles’ mind, there is no question that the incidents complained of at Yale constitute sexual harassment. “The legal standard is … what would a reasonable woman perceive as sexual harassment?” she said. “There’s just no doubt.”

Grievance Procedures

Colleges ignore such complaints at their peril. Court rulings, starting with a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court decision, have found colleges liable for damages for deliberate indifference to a known complaint or a culture that encouraged the behavior.

As the Yale story unfolded last week, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Education Secretary Arne Duncan reminded schools that they are required under Title IX to designate a coordinator to oversee Title IX complaints, issue a notice of non-discrimination policies and publish grievance procedures that provide “prompt and equitable resolution of complaints.”

Critics pointed to the fact that the college’s web site did not identify a Title IX coordinator prior to the complaint. Buttrick, who graduated last year, also said the school did not make public what, if any, disciplinary action was taken against the fraternity members. She said she respects confidentiality issues, but believes the university should inform the community of any punishment meted out, educate the perpetrators, and ban speech that disrupts students’ education.

Alice Pritchard, executive director of Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund, said Yale has an opportunity to lead in the effort to stamp out sexual harassment on campuses. If it does, observers say it will be another example of strong Yale women leading the charge.

Olivarius, the proud mother of two Yale-educated feminists, is aware the problem she shined light on three decades ago continues to exist, despite Yale’s efforts to remedy it.

“Much like my experience in the late 70s, the problem is not unresponsive or unsympathetic administrators but of an institution too weighted by its size and prestige to act quickly and comprehensively unless outside pressure is produced,” she said. “And, in the form of a highly public Title IX complaint, here it is.” •

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Top 5 Myths About Girls, Math and Science

Top 5 Myths About Girls, Math and Science

By LiveScience Staff

posted: 27 August 2007 02:10 pm ET

The days of sexist science teachers and Barbies chirping that “math class is tough!” are over, according to pop culture, but a government program aimed at bringing more women and girls into science, technology, engineering and math fields suggests otherwise.

Below are five myths about girls and science that still endure, according to the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Research on Gender in Science and Engineering (GSE) program:

Myth 1: From the time they start school, most girls are less interested in science than boys are.

Reality: In elementary school about as many girls as boys have positive attitudes toward science. A recent study of fourth graders showed that 66 percent of girls and 68 percent of boys reported liking science. But something else starts happening in elementary school. By second grade, when students (both boys and girls) are asked to draw a scientist, most portray a white male in a lab coat. Any woman scientist they draw looks severe and not very happy. The persistence of the stereotypes start to turn girls off, and by eighth grade, boys are twice as interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) careers as girls are. The female attrition continues throughout high school, college and even the work force. Women with STEM higher education degrees are twice as likely to leave a scientific or engineering job as men with comparable STEM degrees.

Myth 2: Classroom interventions that work to increase girls’ interest in STEM run the risk of turning off the boys.

Reality: Actually, educators have found that interventions that work to increase girls’ interest in STEM also increase such interest among the boys in the classroom. When girls are shown images of women scientists and given a greater sense of possibility about the person they could become, the boys get the message too–“I can do this!”

Myth 3: Science and math teachers are no longer biased toward their male students.

Reality: In fact, biases are persistent, and teachers often interact more with boys than with girls in science and math. A teacher will often help a boy do an experiment by explaining how to do it, while when a girl asks for assistance the teacher will often simply do the experiment, leaving the girl to watch rather than do. Research shows that when teachers are deliberate about taking steps to involve the female students, everyone winds up benefiting. This may mean making sure everyone in the class is called on over the course of a particular lesson, or asking a question and waiting 10 seconds before calling on anyone. Good math and science teachers also recognize that when instruction is inquiry-based and hands-on, and students engage in problem solving as cooperative teams, both boys and girls are motivated to pursue STEM activities, education and careers.

Myth 4: When girls just aren’t interested in science, parents can’t do much to motivate them.

Reality: Parents’ support (as well as that of teachers) has been shown to be crucial to a girl’s interest in science, technology, engineering and math. Making girls aware of the range of science and engineering careers available and their relevance to society works to attract more women (as well as men) to STEM careers. Parents and teachers are also in a position to tell young people what they need to do (in terms of coursework and grades) to put themselves on a path to a STEM career.

Myth 5: At the college level, changing the STEM curriculum runs the risk of watering down important “sink or swim” coursework.

Reality: The mentality of needing to “weed out” weaker students in college majors–especially in the more quantitative disciplines–disproportionately weeds out women. This is not necessarily because women are failing. Rather, women often perceive “Bs” as inadequate grades and drop out, while men with “Cs” will persist with the class. Effective mentoring and “bridge programs” that prepare students for challenging coursework can counteract this. Changing the curriculum often leads to better recruitment and retention of both women and men in STEM classrooms and majors. For example, having students work in pairs on programming in entry-level computer science and engineering (CSE) courses leads to greater retention of both men and women in CSE majors. In addition, given that many students (including men) have difficulty with spatial visualization and learning, coursework in this area has helped retain both women and men in engineering schools.

One of the most effective interventions to help young women choose and sustain a STEM educational path and subsequent STEM career is mentoring, according to the NSF.

“There are helpful strategies for teachers and for families to attract girls to science and keep them engaged in it,” says Jolene Kay Jesse, GSE program director. “And, by the way, these strategies are helpful in keeping students of both genders engaged.”

The program seeks to broaden the participation of girls and women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education fields by supporting research, research-based innovations and education add-ons that will lead to a larger and more diverse domestic science and engineering workforce.

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When Teachers Highlight Gender, Kids Pick Up Stereotypes

When Teachers Highlight Gender, Kids Pick Up Stereotypes

By Clara Moskowitz, LiveScience Senior Writer

posted: 16 November 2010 07:07 am ET

When preschool teachers call attention to gender in any way, kids pick up on it. A new study found that in classrooms where boys and girls line up separately — and even in settings where teachers say things like, “Good morning boys and girls” — children express more stereotypes about gender and even discriminate when deciding who to play with.

“The children in these classrooms expressed less interest in playing with children of the other sex,” said developmental psychologist Lynn Liben of Pennsylvania State University, who conducted the study with graduate student Lacey Hilliard. “Not only in surveys, but we also observed kids playing in free playtime, and there was a significant drop in the amount of time children in those classrooms were seen playing with children of the other sex.”

The researchers compared 57 preschoolers, half of whom were in classrooms where teachers refrained from making divisions by sex. In the other half of classrooms, teachers were asked to use gendered language and highlight two gender categories – for example, there were two different bulletin boards, one for boys and the other for girls to post their work. Even in these classrooms, though, the teachers didn’t express stereotypes about differences between boys or girls, and never had the two sexes directly compete or compare themselves.

Nonetheless, merely calling attention to the fact of gender caused children to agree more with stereotypes, such as the idea that only girls should play with baby dolls or become dancers, and that only boys should use tools and become firefighters.

Previous research has found that such gender stereotypes strongly affect, for example, what children think they’re good at and what professions they envision themselves pursuing.

In addition, the new results showed 37 percent of children whose teachers didn’t talk about gender chose to play with a group that included children of the other sex, while in the classrooms where teachers highlighted gender, only 13 percent chose to play with groups that included kids of other genders.

“To the extent that we found that just this classroom organization affected their stereotypes, it’s likely to have some long-standing impacts on things down the line like educational choices and jobs,” Liben told LiveScience.

And since children tend to learn how to be “boy-like” and “girl-like” through socializing with their peers, the less that kids play with children of the other sex, the more gender differences are likely to be exaggerated as their peer groups become more segregated.

Liben said the research supports the idea that co-ed classrooms are probably better for kids in the long run than single-sex schools, which could perpetuate stereotyped thinking about gender. And teachers should be aware of how the language they use affects kids.

“One of the implications is that classroom structure really matters,” Liben said. “I think it probably makes more sense to use ‘child’ language and ‘friend’ language, rather than ‘boys’ and ‘girls.'”

Many people may not be aware that such gendered language could be damaging, but Liben said the effects can be similar to the harmful outcomes caused by segregating children based on race.

“You would never say ‘good morning black children and white children,’ or have white and black kids line up separately,” she said.

The study is detailed in the November/December issue of the journal Child Development.

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