Playlist teacher guide - Gender

Playlist information

Playlist summary

This playlist explores the different gender norms and stereotypes that exist in our society and how they can influence our decisions and behaviour.

Playlist purpose

The content of this playlist supports students to:

  • Identify and unpack stereotypes related to gender and explore how they influence roles, behaviours and choices.
  • Develop strategies to challenge narrow gender stereotypes that can impact on their relationships and identity.

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Learning objectives

  • Understand the nature of gender stereotypes and inequalities and how these stereotypes and inequalities may impact on the decisions they make and the way they behave.
  • Understand that gender stereotypes are socially constructed and perpetuated through the media and accepted social norms.
  • Analyse gender stereotypes that are portrayed in the media and propose practical strategies for challenging harmful and unhelpful stereotypes.
  • Identify the impacts of gendered expectations on young people and their personal and professional relationships.

Key messages

  • Gender stereotypes portrayed in the media can be rigid and narrow and may not reflect the reality of genders in our society.
  • Narrow gender stereotypes create inequalities that contribute to domestic and family violence.
  • Challenging narrow gender stereotypes helps to create a more equal society which benefits everyone.

Year level(s) appropriate for

Year 10, Year 11, Year 12

Australian curriculum links

Critique behaviours and contextual factors that influence health and wellbeing of diverse communities.

Evaluate factors that shape identities and critically analyse how individuals impact the identities of others.

Media items

Gender

Type: Video.

Duration: 2 minutes.

Source: The Good Society.

Summary: How do gender norms influence the way we navigate relationships and shared decisions? How can we ensure that respect and individual rights are equal regardless of someone's gender?

Survey questions:

  1. Question number 1. Do gender norms affect the way you behave and the decisions you make? Answers
    1. a.Yes, all of the time
    2. b.No, never
    3. c.Most of the time
    4. d.Only some of the time
    Discussion points:

    Gender stereotypes and associated social norms impact on beliefs about roles and how a person should behave in a relationship - whether that be an intimate relationship, familial relationship or workplace relationship. Young people make decisions about their lives and relationships and are influenced by what behaviours are encouraged or discouraged by their peers, family or broader society, sometimes without even realising it. They can feel pushed into education and career pathways because ‘that’s what guys/girls do’. Research has shown that peers patrol each other's behaviour and pressure each other to conform to prevailing gender norms through teasing, bullying, and social exclusion.

    To further explore these concepts, discuss the following questions:

    • How do gender norms affect your relationships?
    • Have gender norms ever influenced decisions you have made? How? Was it positively or negatively?

Gender stereotypes and norms

Type: Page.

Duration: 6 minutes.

Source: The Good Society.

Summary: We explore the difference between generalisations, stereotypes, gender stereotypes and social norms, and look at how each of these influence our perceptions of each other. How does each limit us or other people? What can we do about it?

Survey questions:

  1. Question number 1. Are gender norms and stereotypes just something we have to put up with? Answers
    1. a.Yes, they’ve been around so long it’s too hard to change them
    2. b.No, we need to work to eradicate all gender norms and stereotypes for a better world
    Discussion points:

    Gender norms define what society considers male and female behaviour, and it leads to the formation of gender roles, which are the roles males and females are expected to take in society. For a behaviour or practice to become a norm there needs to be shared expectations or unwritten rules shared within a population group. The gender norm is comprised of the unwritten rule and the resulting patterns of behaviour within the group. These norms have been constantly changing over time as our cultural practices change and the influences on our behaviour broaden. It wasn’t that long ago that the colour that boys should have been dressed in was pink and girls wore blue. To discuss this further, ask the following questions:

    • Are there norms that you wish were different? Which ones?
    • How might you as an individual work to change them?
    • Who could you recruit to help you change them?

Is it ok for guys …

Type: Video.

Duration: 1 minute.

Source: AXE. ()

Summary: This short video points out the problems with assuming that all men fit into a neat package and can be described in the same way. Gendered norms that prescribe how men should be, how they should act and the roles they should play is limiting for all men. Pondering this video's message can help guys put aside the pressure of worrying about whether they fit into the outdated definition of what is masculine.

Survey questions:

  1. Question number 1. Do you think guys are judged more harshly than girls if they fall outside of the gender norms? Answers
    1. a.Yes
    2. b.No
    3. c.Maybe
    Discussion points:

    Gender norms define what society considers to be acceptable behaviour and leads to the formation of gender roles – the roles that individuals who identify as male and female are expected to take up in society. To assume that all men fit into a neat package that describes a single way that a man should be, how they should act and the roles they should play is limiting for men in our society. Young people make decisions about their lives and relationships according to what behaviour those around them and the rest of society encourage or discourage. They can feel pushed into education and career pathways because ‘that’s what guys/girls do’. They can make choices about their relationships and sex-lives because society punishes or rewards people for subscribing to traditional gender roles we understand and feel comfortable with.

    To explore this further discuss the following questions:

    • What are some of the gender norms you feel you need to comply with to avoid being “punished”?
    • Where do we learn about how to behave as a male or female in order to be accepted and to fit in?
    • How can we work together to change some of the narrow definitions of what it means to be male or female?

Gender and the media

Type: Page.

Duration: 4 minutes.

Source: The Good Society.

Summary: What effect does media like news, games, TV, music and movies have on the way we view gender roles and stereotypes? Who are our role models in any media format, and do they play a part in how we perceive the world? This page discusses how to re-evaluate gender stereotypes in media and remove their limiting influence on yourself and others.

Survey questions:

  1. Question number 1. Have you seen non-stereotypical portrayals of men and women in the media recently? Answers
    1. a.Yes
    2. b.No
    Discussion points:

    The media we consume is particularly powerful in shaping what we think are “normal” and acceptable behaviours and attitudes for men and women. Media typically consumed by young people (music TV, social media, pornography, etc) frequently presents an unrealistic account of romance and sexuality. Youth focused media often includes formulaic portrayal of gender roles and sexuality that reinforce the importance of looks and sexiness for women, and in portrayals of men emphasise that sexual obsession is normal and sexual prowess is an asset. To unpack this further, discuss the following questions:

    • What generalisations are made about women in the media who display aggression, competitiveness, assertiveness, strength, grit?
    • Are these women portrayed positively or negatively by media?
    • Can the portrayal be different depending on the type of media?
    • Are these generalisations the same for men who display the same behaviours? Are they seen as positive traits or negative traits?

How movies teach manhood

Type: Video.

Duration: 13 minutes.

Source: TED-Ed. ()

Summary: In this TEDx talk, a father shares the movies he shows to his two young children and examines the messages young people absorb in popular films and the critical role the media plays in perpetuating gendered stereotypes and how these stereotypes influence our behaviours and our dreams for our future selves.

Survey questions:

  1. Question number 1. Have you watched a movie recently that passes the Bechdel test? Answers
    1. a.Yes
    2. b.No
    Discussion points:

    Despite some recent advances in storylines of films, the ‘Princess’ culture – in which young girls are encouraged to prize physical appearance and likeability over intellectual ability and to see social status as closely linked to being in a relationship with a member of the opposite sex – is still widely promoted. Men are more often than not portrayed as the heroes going off to defeat the bad guys and win the heart of the girl. To explore the stereotypes portrayed in movies and how these can influence behaviours, discuss the following questions:

    • Who are your favourite TV, movie characters? Why?
    • What are the qualities or characteristics that you like about these characters?
    • What types of movies do you enjoy watching?
    • What is the “quest” that characters are on in these types of movies?
    • If you were to write your own Hollywood blockbuster that broke all of the traditional stereotypes, who would be the main characters and what would be the quest?

Always #Like A Girl

Type: Video.

Duration: 3 minutes.

Source: Always. ()

Summary: The words 'like a girl' are used to mean something bad and that’s disrespectful and disempowering, for both women and men. Have you ever stopped yourself from doing something or behaving in a certain way because another person used these words against you to put you down?

Survey questions:

  1. Question number 1. Are stereotypes limiting for males and females? Answers
    1. a.Yes
    2. b.No
    Discussion points:

    Gender norms define what society considers male and female behaviour, and it leads to the formation of gender roles, which are the roles males and females are expected to take in society. Gender stereotypes are one-sided and exaggerated images of men and women which are deployed repeatedly in everyday life. They are found commonly in the mass media because they operate as a widely understood shorthand. When it comes to the way females and males are positioned within sport and physical activity, the typical representations of females as participants is very different to the portrayals of male sportspeople. The depiction of females as powerful, aggressive and competitive sportspeople is often derided in the mass media. This video shows the way that adults buy-in to the portrayals that abound in mass media and broader society. We need to challenge these limiting stereotypes in order to create equality across the genders in all aspects of our lives.

    • What stereotypes do you associate with males and females?
    • How can these stereotypes be limiting for both men and women?

Gender and power

Type: Page.

Duration: 5 minutes.

Source: The Good Society.

Summary: Gendered norms and stereotypes have a long history of defining societal roles and power structures. See how a broader acceptance of basic human rights is gradually transforming gendered social norms and challenging gendered stereotypes.

Survey questions:

  1. Question number 1. Is emotional abuse of power as serious as physical or sexual abuse? Answers
    1. a.Yes
    2. b.No
    3. c.Maybe
    Discussion points:

    Abusive partners often exploit the personal and social vulnerabilities of their victim. Partners who have lower levels of power in a relationship find it harder to stand up to coercion, threats and manipulation due to the negative consequences that may be threatened or perceived. If a person has poor social connections and support, less financial resources and is financially dependent, they are more vulnerable to abuse and less capable of leaving an abusive relationship.

    The motivations of an abusive person can be varied, such as personal gain, personal gratification, psychological projection, devaluation, envy or for the enjoyment exercising power and control.

    Controlling abusers use tactics to exert power and control over their victims. The tactics themselves are psychologically and sometimes physically abusive. Control may be helped through economic abuse limiting the victim's actions as they may lack the necessary resources to resist the abuse or leave the situation. The goal of the abuser is to control and intimidate the victim or to influence them to feel that they do not have an equal status in the relationship.

    Manipulators and abusers control their victims with a range of tactics, including positive reinforcement (such as praise, flattery, ingratiation, love bombing, smiling, gifts, attention), negative reinforcement, intermittent or partial reinforcement, psychological punishment (such as nagging, silent treatment, swearing, threats, intimidation, emotional blackmail, guilt trips, inattention) and traumatic tactics (such as verbal abuse or explosive anger).

    For further information to support discussion around abuse of power see the following websites:

Tayla Harris hits out at social media ‘animals’ …

Type: Video.

Duration: 1 minute.

Source: Guardian Sport. ()

Summary: AFLW star Tayla Harris was photographed displaying a kicking style that was universally considered close to perfect. But she became the target of social media trolls who ignored her athleticism and abused her with sexist comments.

Survey questions:

  1. Question number 1. Do you think trolling of a person online can constitute sexual assault? Answers
    1. a.Yes
    2. b.No
    3. c.Maybe
    Discussion points:

    Digital harassment and abuse can range from behaviours such as name-calling, social embarrassment and offensive language, through to sexual harassment, unwanted sexual behaviours, exploitation or abuse (such as by taking or distributing intimate or sexually explicit images without permission), as well as threats and cyberstalking.

    ‘Trolling’ describes persistent abusive comments on a website; or deceptive and disruptive online behaviour, which typically involves posting inflammatory and malicious comments to deliberately provoke and upset people. Online trolling is of particular concern due to the harmful negative outcomes its victims experience. Psychological studies show trolls tend to be male, show higher levels of psychopathy traits – low levels of empathy, guilt and responsibility for their actions – and higher levels of sadism traits – the enjoyment of causing others physical and psychological pain. Trolls appear to be master manipulators of both cyber-settings and their victims' emotions. Trolls are also motivated by what psychologists call “atypical social rewards”. Generally, people are motivated by creating a positive social environment (typical, positive social rewards). But trolls show higher motivation to achieve negative social rewards, like creating social mayhem and disruption.

    For more detailed information about how to manage trolling, particularly of the sexual nature, go to the eSafety Commissioner website at: 

    https://esafety.gov.au/women/take-control/online-abuse/trolling

Gender and relationships

Type: Page.

Duration: 3 minutes.

Source: The Good Society.

Summary: Learn how the relationship Field Model, and Stop Ask Listen, can help when communicating with individuals and avoiding gendered stereotypes and assumptions.

Survey questions:

  1. Question number 1. Do you think the gender of partners making the decision will influence who gets their way? Answers
    1. a.Yes
    2. b.No
    3. c.Depends on the decision
    Discussion points:

    Gender should not be the deciding factor when making choices in a relationship. All shared decisions need to take into account all factors influencing the decision. A healthy respectful relationship will disregard the social norms and stereotypes surrounding a person’s gender and will base decisions on what is best for the two individuals and the relationship.

    • Are there examples of decisions that you may need to make in a relationship that are based solely on gender? If so, which ones?
    • Have you ever got your way on a decision, solely because of your gender? For example, deciding on who does which household chores.

Problematic Movie Romance Lessons

Type: Video.

Duration: 14 minutes.

Source: The Take by ScreenPrism. ()

Summary: This video looks at how many romantic comedy movies depict problematic love lessons and how they often fall back on gendered tropes for their characters and situations.

Survey questions:

  1. Question number 1. Do you think the nice guy / cool girl tropes described in the video are true in real-life? Answers
    1. a.Yes
    2. b.No
    3. c.Maybe
    Discussion points:

    The lessons and tropes described in the video are based heavily on gender stereotypes and seem to permit certain behaviours that would be deemed inappropriate for other people who did not fit into the trope of nice guy, cute girl etc.

    To unpack the different labels that society attaches to males and females and how these labels are associated with different types of behaviour, discuss the following questions:

    • Are there double standards that exist that are based on gender?
    • What tropes or types of guys exist as labels in your community? For example, hot guy, goofy guy, sporty guy, etc
    • How do these labels influence the types of behaviours that are accepted by different people?
    • Are there certain guys or girls who can get away with things that others wouldn’t because of their looks, how much money they have, who they are or where they come from?
    • How can we challenge some of the double-standards that might exist that are based on gender?

Why Gender Equality Is Good for Everyone…

Type: Video.

Duration: 16 minutes.

Source: TEDx. ()

Summary: This TEDx talk makes a case for gender equality at work, school, home and in our relationships as an overwhelmingly win-win scenario which would result in greater happiness and opportunities for everyone. Presented by Michael Kimmel, an author, who asks the question of how much gender inequality is costing us as individuals and as a society.

Survey questions:

  1. Question number 1. Do you believe gender equality is going to be beneficial for both men and women? Answers
    1. a.Yes
    2. b.No
    Discussion points:

    Michael Kimmel suggests that instead of saying men “pitch in” or “help out” with household duties, we say that men “share” household duties. The change in wording may seem small, but he believes “share” better reflects the equal nature of partnerships when men are engaged. Do you think this language change matters? Why or why not?

    This video raises the issue of gender and racial privilege. In addition to gender and race, there are other types of privilege, including class, education, and religion. Reflecting on your own life, what type(s) of privilege do you have? How does your privilege affect you? And affect others?

    Michael Kimmel recalls a time when a student suggested that a female professor’s lectures were biased because of her gender. Have you ever felt that something you said was considered biased because of your gender? How did this make you feel? What did you do in that situation?

    Why do you think some men feel like they are under attack from efforts to achieve gender equality?

    Do you think gender equality is good for both men and women?

Activities and extras

The conversations generated through engaging with this playlist could be built upon and reinforced using scenarios and group activities where students explore how the outcomes may be different if the genders of the characters were swapped.

Further ideas for exploring gender can be found on the following websites:

If you are wanting to explore the links between culture and gender norms then watch the TedX Talk “We should all be feminists”.