GENDER ROLE DEVELOPMENT
By: Grethe Cobb
One || Class Two
The overall objective of this 2-day unit, in
relation to infusing equity by gender in the classroom, is to focus on gender neutrality
in the face of factors (cultural, environmental, parental, societal) to force differences
in expectations for girls and boys. Most importantly, students will see some of the
effects of gender bias, how these biases are created, and be able to define expectations
This lesson plan was developed using materials from the book "Your
Sexuality: A Self Assessment" by Robert F. Valois and Sandra K. Kammermann, 1997 and
is used with permission of the publisher, The McGraw-Hill Companies.
- All students will be able to explain the effects of gender bias, stereotyping and
discrimination on access, learning, self-esteem, relationships and behavior.
- All students will be able to list strategies to overcome gender bias, stereotyping and
GRADE LEVEL: 5-6, Guidance
OBJECTIVE(S): Students will be able recognize the effects of gender bias
and stereotyping by:
- Identifying some aspects of gender identity.
- Distinguishing influences of culture, environmental and parental or human factors in
regard to gender development.
- Identifying some of their own expectations in relation to gender development.
TIME: Two class periods
- Newsprint paper for recording group responses. Markers, tape.
- Student photo from about the age of I to 6 years of age (give prior as a homework
assignment). If this is not feasible use magazine cutouts of children for bulletin board
- Gather favorite items specifically recognized among your students that can not always be
linked to gender. For example, a favorite sport cap, sweatshirt, beanie baby animal,
sports equipment, or music.
- Give an explanation of gender equity leaving the definition open ended for
- Divide class into four groups (separating the males from the females).
- Identify the recorder for each group to print answers to the questions on the newsprint
provided, and post the answers on the bulletin board for review.
- Allow students to work collectively in their groups to brainstorm and answer questions below. This activity will take a
class period if students are to address the questions with insight.
Gender Role Development
Ask class to respond to the following questions:
- Are infant girls treated differently than infant boys? What influences this? Are there
instances that you recall in which an infant girl was treated differently than an infant
boy? Talk about this example.
- How do little girls differ from little boys in clothing styles? In toys? In expected
- Are there certain behaviors that are expected and rewarded for a girl?
- Are there certain behaviors that are expected and rewarded for a boy?
- Are there certain behaviors that are discouraged according to gender?
- Display group answers. Examine results. Ask students to identify the similarities and
the differences. Note the similarities, as a cluster of answers drawn from each group.
- Reflect on these similarities, and encourage reflection of students expectations
for themselves by using questions such as these that follow:
- Are you expected to meet any of these expectations? Which ones? Do you meet them? If
yes, why? Is it because you:
* never thought much about it before?
* you are comfortable doing these things and being
treated in these ways?
* you are not expected to behave, dress, etc. in certain
- If you are not comfortable with being treated differently than the opposite gender, what
can be done?
- Why are gender differences enforced by society? Is this fair and equitable?
- Using the bulletin board made from student photos or magazine photos discuss what is
seen. Are there similarities between what is seen in the photos and the student responses?
- Display some of the favorite items you have gathered. Discuss with the students if they
can be identified because of gender. For example, displaying a PAW SOX baseball cap does
not necessarily mean it belongs to a male. Display students artwork, literature
writing, and collection of stamps, favorite musical pieces. Be sure that you display
articles that are neutral in gender identity. This will allow for further thought and
investigation for the students.
ASSESSMENTS: Rubric for a reflective essay is based on the
- When is it appropriate, if ever, that men and women be treated differently?
- Although there are many, many, gender neutral items, experiences, talents, abilities,
and interests, there seem to continue to be differences in expectations for girls and
- What are your expectations for yourself? How do you define success? Will you let the
expectations of others define your success? What will you do, If anything, if someone
tries to define (limit) your vision of your success?
The questions above relate to key issues in gender equity.
Write a reflective essay about these issues. Be prepared to read your essay to a small
group in class. The group will discuss your ideas and their ideas about how to identify
and overcome any lack of equity you identify so that you can use these ideas as you work
toward your definition of success.
EXTENDED ACTIVITIES: This could be done in the beginning of an
integrated sexuality unit in sixth grade and then repeated in the eighth grade. Are
students perceptions the same? What are they if they are not? Are expectations for
ones own self-the same? What is acceptable and what is not acceptable behavior in
relation to gender?
Your Sexuality: A Self Assessment
Robert F. Valois and Sandra K. Kammermann
The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
New York, 1997