November 4, 2015

Gender Stereotyping & Education

By Bellwether

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In U.S. News I take a look at something that is seemingly trivial but actually points up a broader issue and problem around gender and education: Why can’t I find good quality outdoor clothing for girls?

It happened again last fall. My fast-growing daughter wanted a new flannel shirt for chillier fall days. We went to a national chain store known for quality and affordable kids’ clothing, and she happily bounded to the girls’ section. Then the resigned look I’d seen before came over her, because she knew we were off to the boys’ part of the store next. There were no flannel shirts for girls…

…I get that there are more important things in the world than whether my daughter can find a pair of Carhartt pants she likes, but clothing choices are a powerful signal, and the availability of choices sends a message to girls about what they should and should not be doing. In practice, it’s not so far in our gendered society from “girls’” activities on the playground or what’s on their backs to the sense that math, science and engineering are not for girls either. After all, while clothing may seem trivial, what we choose to cloak our bodies in says a lot about who we are, our values and our preferences…

REI is closing the day after Thanksgiving to give its employees the day off to get outside. Before you make plans click here and you can read the entire column. I include a few tips on outlets trying to do better – send me yours on Twitter @arotherham.

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