Society teaches our children life-limiting stereotypes from the moment they are born. Over the course of the next year Fawcett will bring together an expert Commission on Gender and Early Years to build a new consensus on the impact gender stereotypes have and how, together, we can end them.

2018 was the centenary year of women’s votes. We want 2019 to be about the future. To take the suffrage legacy forward we need to change hearts and minds for the next generation.

We want to commission research, campaign with our grassroots, and make this a Government priority. But we need your help.

Why does this matter?

Gender stereotypes strike early. By the time children reach primary school, they have already developed a clear sense of what is expected of boys and girls and how they are supposed to behave.

But we can challenge that. As Cordelia Fine argues: ‘our minds, society and neurosexism create difference. Together they wire gender. But the wiring is soft, not hard. It is flexible, malleable and changeable.’ Studies show that while the environment they are in is crucial in transmitting gender norms to children, they also find that the use of materials which actively challenge traditional gender norms can undo children’s previously held perceptions.

And it is vital that we do. Research shows that by the age of seven girls and boys’ aspirations are so often limited by stereotyping, with too few girls believing the full range of careers are open to them – and too many boys unable to express their emotions.

What are we going to do?

Our aim is to change the national conversation, and to put this firmly on policymakers’ agendas.

  • Bring together an expert commission of academics, campaigners, early years educators, parents, politicians and retailers.
  • Collect the evidence that is out there on stereotyping: the scale of the problem, the impact it has, and what we can do to tackle it.
  • Bring together educators and policymakers to talk about how we can tackle stereotypes across the whole of the country.
  • Mobilise our members and supporters to challenge stereotyping in the commercial world.
  • Conduct research with parents to understand how they see the impact of stereotypes; what they want from schools, the shops they buy from, and the media their kids consume; and the support they want to challenge stereotypes.
  • Conduct research with nursery and pre-school workers and leaders to understand how they feel about stereotyping, and how equipped they feel to combat it.
  • Understand and share best practice in nurseries and schools.
  • And finally – make recommendations to Government and other stakeholders.

What can you do?

Every year, Christmas shopping for children comes with a host of gifts promoting harmful stereotypes, from pink and blue slogans to toys marketed as only suitable for one gender. Will you join our mission to end this once and for all?

This December, we're launching our exciting #SmashingStereotypes project - and we need your help to gather evidence for it. Send us pictures of offending items you see while you're out Christmas shopping!