We’re Ros Ball and James Millar, parents of a daughter and a son, who were struck by the way we saw people treat our children differently from birth.
Aiming to tackle gender stereotypes head-on, we kept a two year diary on Twitter about day to day experiences that showed the sexist boxes our kids were being forced into. It became a life changing experiment about gender and how everyone needs to take notice of the messages we are sending to kids. We published the diary and our online writing as a book, The Gender Agenda, in 2017.
Our aim was to make people aware of the way gender is constructed and constantly reinforced. For example an early diary entry read:
11 January 2011 @Genderdiary
Being shown round her new nursery a member of staff said to our daughter, “This is what we call the boys corner”. It’s a play table for cars.
We wrote and encouraged online discussion about everything we saw our kids interact with that gave them messages about what it was to be a girl or a boy, from language and clothes, to toys and the media. We documented how society applies unwritten rules from birth. But we didn’t want to just moan about the situation, we wanted to think of ways to change it so every piece of writing lists suggested solutions – and frequently ones that we can all take as individuals.
We now regularly write in the media on this subject and speak at events and on panels. We share our crowd-sourced lists of feminist children’s books, films and toy shops. We promote ways to use language to be inclusive and shared ideas on how to take anti-sexist workshops into schools.
We have supported fantastic campaigning organisations like Let Toys be Toys who say of our diary, “We recommend this book at least once a week – it explains why we campaign.’
We are also part of the Gender Equality Collective who are campaigning for homes, schools and businesses to sign up to a charter which commits signatories “to work together to achieve gender equality”.
- Read our book The Gender Agenda
- Encourage schools to use the Let Toys be Toys free lesson plans to challenge gender stereotypes
- Sign The Gender Equality Charter and join the Community of Change to discuss and debate the latest topics
- Check out GEC Best Books 2019 for gender equal bookshelves
- Recognise that even if you think you’re aware of gender stereotyping, as we thought we were, you may need to look at your own behaviour!
Follow us on Twitter @Genderdiary