The aim of this activity is to begin the exploration of gender roles.
Make ‘occupation cards’ each naming a particular occupation e.g. doctor, nurse, teacher, hairdresser, firefighter, solicitor, welder, mechanic, florist etc.
Introduce the topic by telling the girls that ‘gender’ and ‘sex’ are terms that are often confused. ‘Sex’ is used to refer to the physical differences between males and females. ‘Gender’, describes the different patterns of behaviour associated with males and females. In all countries there are differences not only in ways in which males and females are expected to behave but also in the way in which they are treated. These differences vary not only from country to country but within different societies, this includes the UK.
Share the following scenario:‘A father and son are involved a car accident. When they get to A&E the operating doctor says, ‘I cannot operate – it is my son”. Ask the girls who they think is the operating doctor?
Get the group to share their answers and discuss the reactions of the group. It is of course the mother. However, it is unusual for the guess to be accurate in the first instance, as stereotypes of gender roles commonly show that many will be puzzled and think of all sorts of other possibilities first.
Split the group into smaller groups. Give everyone an occupation card and ask them to take turns to mime their occupation for the rest of the group to guess.
Discuss whether each occupation is traditionally seen as male or female and whether this is still stereotypical in today’s society, or if such stereotypes have lessened with changing attitudes towards women.
You could close the session by asking girls to share what occupation they would like to do when they are older.