Gender Roles

A couple of moments came up last week that reminded me that as a mom and a teacher I need to do better.

  • The housecleaner left a note that she thought the belt broke on the vacuum cleaner and that she hoped my husband could fix it. My husband made a comment over dinner that was sexist, and mom could fix it too. My son and daughter disagreed with him and said only Daddy fixes things.
  • At soccer practice, my son at the ball stolen from him and the girl said, “Ha! Ha! you got beat by a girl.” My son was not even bothered by the comment. Knowing him, he was so intently focused on the skills that he didn’t hear her.

The first one did not phase me as much as the second one. I could claim that I am guilty of letting Mike fix things. To solve this one, it was easy. I will share the fixing load with my husband. The vacuum cleaner’s belt was replaced by me with my kids watching.

The second one is a little harder. Do I begin with the bragging or the comment about being a girl? I am starting to reflect on these questions:

  • Does my language suggest that certain skills, traits or dispositions belong to one gender over the other?
  • Do I reinforce gender roles that my children or students believe or do I challenge their thinking?

What I do know for sure is I want my children and students to be proud of their accomplishments without a gender qualifier.





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