Unlimited Potential - the final report of the Commission on Gender Stereotypes in Early Childhood sets out how gender expectations significantly limit our children, causing problems such as lower self-esteem in girls and poorer reading skills in boys. The report finds that stereotypes contribute towards the mental health crisis among children and young people, are at the root of girls’ problems with body image and eating disorders, higher male suicide rates and violence against women and girls.

Stereotyped assumptions also significantly limit career choices, contributing to the gender pay gap. The report also evidences that parents want to see change and sets out a number of practical solutions.

The Commission, finds that a majority of parents recognise that there is a problem:

  • Three quarters (74%) say boys and girls are treated differently, and six in 10 (60%) say this has negative impacts.
  • 70% of mothers and 60% of fathers agree that this unequal treatment affects how able boys are to talk about their emotions
  • Asked what work they could see their kids doing when they grow up, seven times as many could see their sons working in construction (22%) compared to just 3% for their daughters, while almost three times as many could see their daughters in nursing or care work (22%), compared to 8% in relation to their sons.
  • Parents are also concerned about how gender stereotypes result in bullying, particularly when it comes to boys – 61% say they would worry about bullying if their son behaved differently to what is seen as ‘normal’ for their gender, compared to 47% in relation to their daughters.

The report is the culmination of an 18-month process of research and evidence gathering, cochaired by Prof Becky Francis, now Chief Executive of the Education Endowment Foundation and Rt Hon. David Lammy MP, in his capacity as his former chair of the APPG on Fatherhood. The Commission brings together an influential group of stakeholders, from Mumsnet and the National Childbirth Trust, to the National Education Union and campaigners Let Toys Be Toys, to Usborne Books and educational publisher Pearson Plc.

Download the full report

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