The aim of this activity is to help participants to reflect on their personal identity. Download the presentation to help support the activity
Discussion: It is important to start the conversation on gender inequality with an understanding of gender. Ask participants to consider, are you born a particular gender or do you become a gender? According to the World Health Organisation, ‘Sex’ refers to the biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women. ‘Gender’ refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities and attributes that society considers appropriate for men and women. To put it another way: ‘male’ and ‘female’ are sex categories, while ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ are gender categories.
Group Work: Step 1 Divide participants into four groups, masculine male, feminine female, masculine female and feminine man, give them each a large sheet of paper and tell them they will be recording the words they feel society uses to describe their category of person.
Call out the following words and ask the groups to write down the words or traits they feel describes their category of person: hairy, muscles, breasts, brave, rough, risk-taker, independent, emotional, curvy, assertive, friendly, cuddly, affectionate, romantic, gentle, confident, tall, moody, strong, rationale, competitive, shy, cooperative, nurturing, pilot, decisive, daring, dominant, short hair, long hair, violent, aggressive, hysterical, indecisive, leader, fighter, healer, pink, cleaner, doctor, teacher, nurse, graceful, short hair, earrings, soft, flirtatious, hips, messy, artsy, scientist, quiet, bold, powerful, insensitive, physical, athlete, stubble, gay, straight, pretty, charming, beautiful, fit, funny, bad, engineer, gamer, footballer.
Step 2: In our society, how would you rate your person in terms of their perceived power, with 1 being weak and 10 being powerful? Who might you give authority or decision making power to? Which person could you perceive as vulnerable or lacking in power? Why? How might that person be treated?
Step 3: Ask participants to count the number of perceived negative characteristics you have on the page. Ask them to circle any words that could be seen as a stereotype of your category of person.
Feedback: Discuss with the wider group the implications of stereotypes.
A stereotype is a mistaken idea or belief many people have about individuals or groups, based upon how they look on the outside, which may be untrue or only partly true. When a person is stereotyped, expectations can be placed on them and decisions can be made about them. Stereotyping quite often underpins discrimination and inequality and can even lead internalised beliefs that limit people’s options and expectations of themselves.