Society teaches our children life-limiting stereotypes from the moment they are born. Fawcett brought together an expert Commission on Gender Stereotypes in Early Childhood to build a new consensus on the impact gender stereotypes have and how, together, we can end them.

The Commission ran until 2020. It gathered evidence to help promote practical solutions to change childhood and change lives, and to explore how gender stereotypes interact with other norms including race and class. We’ve produced research to challenge minds, we’re also campaigning on the ground and to make this a Government priority.

Support our work today by sharing our research and donating towards our campaign for change.

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 doing?

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

  • We brought together an expert commission of academics, campaigners, early years educators, parents, politicians and retailers.
  • Collated 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.
  • Conducted 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.
  • Conducted research with nursery and pre-school workers and leaders to understand how they feel about stereotyping, and how equipped they feel to combat it.
  • Mobilised our members and supporters to audit their high streets and challenge stereotyping in the commercial world.
  • Based on all of this, we've developed practical recommendations for Government, education practitioners, the commercial sector and parents.
  • Fawcett is campaigning on the ground, sharing best practice with nurseries and schools, bringing together policy makers, educators and key stakeholders to talk about how we can tackle gender stereotypes across the whole country.  

Show your support by donating today or becoming a Fawcett member.