Posted by: mariacascio12 | January 23, 2015

Keep the sex. Remove the ism.

The children’s commercial that we watched in class last week really peaked my interest and got me thinking about the huge affect that gender stereotyping can have on children from a young age. When are we first even exposed to stereotyping? I found this article about the school system and though it was worth sharing.

These leaders in education say that taking away gender distractions means giving kids a “fighting change to get a college degree”.  My question is that doesn’t that hinder more than hurt? It’s like fasting from food. You’re deprived for so long that wouldn’t you go crazy once food is actually presented to you?

Schools want to avoid relying on gender stereotypes. But won’t that naturally occur? If you don’t have the opposite gender there with you, you become very unaware and inexperienced with how to act with them in the real world. This would seem to only promote your own gender even further, giving you a superiority complex. On the other hand, I don’t think we should be de-gendering kids either. I think the only way to get a well rounded experience is to be exposed and in community with both genders. Aren’t we going backwards instead of progressing forward here?

Boys and girls learn differently. Okay, true. But girls and girls learn differently also. When I was little, I was told that boys had more science and math minds while girls had English minds because they were better at communicating. Well here I am at college being a science major and I’m sure you can think of a few successful male authors. Therefore, one cannot plan a whole new schooling system based on the fact that boys and girls learn differently. They say this school is trying to get rid of stereotypes, but they are hypocritically encouraging them in my opinion. The girls’ school is complete with couches and exercise balls for the girls to use while they do their schoolwork. The walls and lockers are pastel with ballerinas, butterflies, and hearts decorating the walls. I truly believe that girls and boys do have developmental differences, but I don’t think that is enough of a reason to split male and females altogether and force them to only see one half of the world.

Touching on our social role stereotype discussion in class- this article mentions that black boys in particular seem to be more “aggressive” and “not as neat”. Not surprising that the boys know that this is their expected behavior, their stereotype. When all these boys are put together in the classroom, of course they fulfill the expectation already placed on them. In the article, Bigler worries about kids learning that “all boys dominate, tease, and harass.” She points out that what the school system is saying is that when there is an issue such as sexual harassment, “let’s remove all boys to protect you, even though many boys are warm, supportive, and helpful,” She speaks again about sheltering girls too much: “It takes an effort to change a culture and make respectful, supportive relationships, but women have to learn to talk in front of men and men have to learn to support their colleagues.”
I think everyone in the girls’ school will become extremely like-minded (and vice versa) because they will not have a male’s voice. Not that all girls will be thinking the same things, but this is similar to how we all enjoy having two men in our classroom. It just provides more opinions and experiences from which to draw on.The end of this article presents a study that shows that statistically there was no found advantage in single-sex schooling, but rather that single sex schooling “reinforces negative stereotypes”.

One last quote to sum up my thoughts would be that “Increasing stereotyping is not going to increase academic performance…when you have a problem with sexism you don’t remove the sex-you remove the ism”. Now that’s what I’m saying.


  1. I agree this school seems to be enforcing gender stereotypes by saying that girls are not good at math or science and boys are better at those subjects.Though it is respectable that the district decided to make the middle school better and teach the students that they can achieve more in life. Though, it would be better if the school continued to have both boys and girls integrated in the classroom. The students are lacking that opposite sex interaction that would be valuable if he/she wanted to be a leader, so each of the students can learn how to be both assertive and sensitive leaders despite gender. The worst thing I saw from the article was that the school did not want the boys to read books with ‘weak’ male characters. I found this inappropriate because children should read all kinds of different books with different characters to become more empathetic and to know that women and men can both be strong or leaders. To me I suspect that this school would adopt the Great Women Theory of Leadership because it can still teach girls to be leaders, but not aggressive leaders like men. It was evident when the article mentioned that girls need to be coddled when learning masculine subjects.

  2. I agree with this wholeheartedly. It truly makes me a tad angry when people try to rely on stereotypes when trying to “help” a certain group. I agree that yes there may be some inherent differences between boys and girls. That doesn’t mean there are not exceptions to the so called rule. Each person is unique in how they view the world based upon the different experiences and influences put upon them. I find the notion that separating boys and girls in school and teaching them differently to be frankly irresponsible. If anything I has the potential to reinforce damaging stereotypes in impressionable children. Instead they should continue gender neutral education, while trying to eliminate the expected stereotypes that are pre-existing within the school and catering education for each student on a personal teacher-student level. I am not saying that girls should not conform to societal expectation of gender, just that they should have a childhood where it is not a primary learned pressure and instead a active choice they can make as they age.

  3. I would agree that in some cases that single-sex education could go wrong. The schools discussed in this article, which I find its validity questionable due to the source of information, ie buzzfeed, seems to be falling into a potential harmful situation if playing too much into stereotypes. However, it is important to realize that the public education system as a whole is set up to fail young boys from the start, as for a majority of boys when they are younger are hyperactive and better equipped biologically to succeed in an active classroom environment. The idea of single-sex education could be valuable as boys are more likely to not speak up in an class full of girls and vice versa, where in an single sex classroom they feel more free to express their ideas. I feel that unlike what the article discusses it is important for both boys and girls to read books that show both dominant characters as well as more subtle ones, by analyzing both it creates a stronger since of self and new ideas that can challenge stereo-types. The burden o a single-sex school falls on the teachers to be open and challenge students with different perspectives and to think critically and antithetically. I would say that single-sex schools could be made successful, as some of the best schools in the nation, as mentioned in the article, are single-sex, although most being private. This could change overtime and public schools could be in the mix. It is also important to remember that this is also the first year that the school is in operation as a single sex school so there are still many kinks to work out, and improvements will be possible as time goes on.

  4. I think that this shows a really interesting point. I always wondered why we were told when we were young that boy and girls were better at certain things. This conditions both sexes to feel out of place when they were good at the opposite subjects. I think that it would be more applicable to gear learning towards teaching children in general. There will be boys that won’t be good at math and science and there will be girls that won’t be good at english or history. I also completely believe that there is a self-fulfilling prophecy with telling the sexes that they have certain traits. If both sexes are treated the same way then they the self-fulfilling prophecy will be creating successful and confident children.

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