While the conversations about the benefits of a gender balanced workforce continue, very little attention has been paid to the views of children. At this early stage of their development, children have a unique opportunity to make up their own minds about what boys and girls can do or be. However, if a balanced approach is not achieved, social norms learned in families, communities and peer groups will influence and reduce their choices, aspirations and social achievements. This then perpetuates the stereotypical gendered roles, with boys potentially rejecting nurturing and caring careers and girls limiting their potential for careers in science, technology, engineering and maths; skills and knowledge which will no doubt be essential for the next phase of our quickly changing world.
In this seminar we share our research, conducted in partnership with the London Early Years Foundation teachers and children. The outcome is interesting. Dr Helen Perkins and Tracey Edwards from the University of Wolverhampton who led the study explain, “Children need to see our diverse society reflected in their nurseries. It is not just about gender but the opportunity for children to have choice. It is the characteristics and attributes of the teacher that provides a rich learning environment and allows all children to embrace positive non-stereotypical gendered behaviours.”
Dr Helen Perkins is Senior Lecturer in Childhood and Family Studies at the University of Wolverhampton teaching on undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Helen’s Doctoral research predominately focuses on agendas and policies in the early years with a focus on the workforce, with a developing interest in Gender. Helen served as an expert panel member for the Nutbrown Review of Early Years qualifications and is a member of the Executive for the Early Childhood Studies Degree Network focusing on workforce issues and professionalism, in the workforce.
Tracey Edwards is Senior Lecturer in Childhood and Family Studies at the University of Wolverhampton. Tracey is course leader for the BA Hons in Young People Family and Community Studies and teaches on undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Tracey is module leader for Representations of Childhood, which has led to her interest in children’s gender identities and the role of men in childcare settings Tracey’s research interests focus on agendas and policies in the children’s and young people’s workforce.