Playlist teacher guide - Gender & power

Playlist information

Playlist summary

This playlist provides support for students to explore the influence of gender on individuals, groups and wider society.

Playlist purpose

As a result of engaging with the media items in this playlist students will:

  • Understand the nature of gender stereotypes.
  • Explore how narrow gender stereotypes can be limiting for both males and females.
  • Examine how gender inequality is a key factor in the perpetration and condoning of violence and abuse against women.
  • Understand that we all play a role in reducing gender inequality and challenging disrespect and abuse based on gender.

Learning objectives

  • Understand the nature of social power and the dynamics of peer influence on decisions, behaviours and actions within groups.
  • Develop strategies to stand up to peers and friends when they are behaving disrespectfully (harassment, bullying and being a proactive bystander / upstander).

Key messages

  • Peer influence can have a strong impact on attitudes, decisions and behaviours during early adolescence.
  • Bullying occurs within a complex environment of social power and peer influences.

Year level(s) appropriate for

Year 7, Year 8, Year 9

Australian curriculum links

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

Investigate the benefits of relationships and examine their impact on their own and others’ health and wellbeing.

Evaluate strategies to manage personal, physical and social changes that occur as they grow older.

Examine the impact of changes and transitions on relationships.

Media items

Gender & power introduction

Type: Slides.

Duration: 5 minutes.

Source: The Good Society.

Summary: These slides introduce the Gender & power playlist.

Teacher notes:

Slide 1:  Gender stereotypes

Ask students to define what a stereotype is. For example: a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.

Brainstorm with students all of the different stereotypes they have heard or seen about males and females.

Record student responses in two columns with headings MALE and FEMALE.

Ask students if they can identify any stereotypes that could refer to both males and females.


Slide 2: Gender and media

Media portrayals play a central role in how young people develop a picture of what it means to be male or female. A range of behaviours are played out publicly across the various media platforms accessed by young people. In unregulated online and intimate social spaces in particular, negative behaviours and attitudes often become accepted as the new norm. These attitudes and behaviours can be driven by gender norms that are portrayed in the mass media.

The way genders are portrayed in the media, and the roles they play in TV shows and movies, play an important part in perceptions of how capable and powerful males and females are in society.


Slide 3: Gender inequality and abuse

Gender inequality is a situation in which women and men do not have equal power, resources or opportunities, and their voices, ideas and work are not valued equally by society.

Gender inequality provides the underlying social conditions for violence against women. It operates at many levels – from social and cultural norms (the dominant ideas about men and women in a society), to economic structures (such as the pay gap between men and women), to organisational, community, family and relationship practices.

Violence experienced by any member of society is a problem. Violence against women is particularly serious and prevalent and is something as a society we must all work to change.

Gender norms and stereotypes

Type: Page.

Duration: 5 minutes.

Source: The Good Society.

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

Teacher notes:

It is important to work with students to unpack and deconstruct the gender stereotypes that exist and drive much of the disrespect and violence that is experienced by women. When gender stereotypes are narrow and rigid there is a much greater chance of disrespect and abuse occurring. By deconstructing and challenging societal expectations around gender we can breakdown these stereotypes and reduce gender inequities in our society.

Suggested activities:

To explore some of the narrow stereotypes attached to relationships and sexual behaviours with Year 9 students you could watch and discuss the following videos with students:

Always #LikeAGirl

Type: Video.

Duration: 3 minutes.

Source: Always. ()

Summary: Run like a girl, flight like a girl, throw like a girl— is ‘like a girl’ a bad or good thing?

Survey questions:

  1. Question number 1. Have you heard the phrase ‘Like a Girl’ used as an insult? Answers
    1. a.All the time
    2. b.Lots of times
    3. c.Occasionally
    4. d.Never
    Discussion points:

    Follow up questions to help unpack this conversation and the use of this language could include:

    • Who is usually the person using the term? E.g. is it females or males, young or old?
    • In what settings is the phrase usually used? E.g. In the classroom, playground, sporting field, shopping centre, on the bus?
    • How do you think it would make a girl feel who hears it used in this way?
    • How could we change the way the phrase is used so that it is not an insult but a compliment?

Mythbusters: Throws Like A Girl

Type: Video.

Duration: 4 minutes.

Source: Discovery Channel. ()

Summary: Is there actually a difference between the way men and women throw a ball and if so, why? This experiment attempts to answer this question.

Survey questions:

  1. Question number 1. Do you think you could kick like a girl? Answers
    1. a.Yes
    2. b.No
    3. c.Maybe
    Discussion points:

    Discuss how stereotypes about how girls play sport can be formed and promoted in society. Examine the role that the media plays in creating and maintaining stereotypes.

    Discuss how social media can also influence how female participation in elite sport is portrayed by exploring the controversy that surrounded the Tayla Harris photograph from the 2019 AFL Womens competition.

    Ask students if they think they could kick like Tayla Harris?

Challenging gender stereotypes

Type: Page.

Duration: 5 minutes.

Source: The Good Society.

Summary: Representation matters, and not just for groups that are under-represented or mis-represented in the media. The way males and females are portrayed in the media plays a central role in how we develop a picture of what it means to be male or female.

Teacher notes:

Schools are an important setting for challenging stereotypes and addressing attitudes and beliefs about gender and power that perpetuate violence and abuse against women. Schools create an environment that promotes the belief and commitment that violence of any sort against any person is not acceptable, that it can be challenged and overcome.


Suggested activities:

Divide students into small groups.

Allocate each group one set of the following questions to discuss:

  • How do we expect a male to behave in today’s society? What is the role of the man in the family, at work, in sport, in a relationship, in social situations?
  • How do we expect a female to behave in today’s society? What is the role of the woman in the family, at work, in sport, in a relationship, in social situations?

Pair groups so that one group discusses males and the other discusses females and ask them to share their discussions. Identify similarities and differences in responses.

As a class discuss:

  • Who decides the right way for a male or female to look or behave?
  • How can gender stereotypes be limiting?
  • How can stereotypes impact on relationships?
  • What happens to the people who do not fit into a gender stereotype?

If people do not fit the stereotype, does it make them any less male or female? Why or why not?

The Bechdel Test for Women in Movies

Type: Video.

Duration: 2 minutes.

Source: feministfrequency. ()

Summary: The Bechdel Test is a simple test to gauge the active presence of female characters in a movie. To pass the test, two women must talk to each other about something other than a man.

Survey questions:

  1. Question number 1. Would the last movie you watched pass the Bechdel Test? Answers
    1. a.Yes
    2. b.No
    Discussion points:

    Discuss the following questions with the class to unpack the influence of movies further:

    • What impact do you think it can have on attitudes towards males and females if the majority of movies produced and distributed do not meet the Bechdel Test?
    • Which movies that have been recently released would pass the Bechdel Test?
    • What roles do the males and females play in these movies that do pass the Bechdel Test?
    • Are these roles reflective of roles that men and women commonly play in real life?

Gender inequality and abuse

Type: Page.

Duration: 5 minutes.

Source: The Good Society.

Summary: To reduce violence against women, attitudes and behaviours that support gender inequality must be challenged and changed.

Suggested activities:

There is no single cause of gender-based violence. Research and evidence show the key drivers to be low support for gender equality and adherence to rigid gender roles and stereotypes. These two factors, particularly when combined with broader support for violence, foster the conditions for violence against women to occur. Gender inequality is the core of the problem and it is the heart of the solution.

Preventing gender-based violence requires a public health, primary prevention approach that addresses the link between gendered power relations and inequalities and violence against women and their children. By embedding a culture of respectful relationships in schools through our policies and practices, our curriculum delivery and our interactions with all members of the school community we can reduce gender inequalities and violence-supportive attitudes.

For detailed advice about what you can do at a whole-school level to tackle gender-based abuse and reduce violence against women, check out the Toolkit from Our Watch.

Gender & power conclusion

Type: Slides.

Duration: 5 minutes.

Source: The Good Society.

Summary: These slides conclude the Gender & power playlist.

Teacher notes:

To conclude this playlist, ask students to undertake a reflection activity about what they learnt about gender. To provide structure to their reflection work through the following slides: 

Slide 1:

Ask students to write down three things they learnt about GENDER STEREOTYPES. 

Slide 2:

Ask students to write down three things they learnt about GENDER AND POWER. 

Slide 3: 

Ask students to write down three things they learnt about GENDER, ABUSE AND VIOLENCE. 

Slide 4: 

Ask students to turn to a partner and go through the Connect – Extend – Challenge thinking routine by discussing the following questions: 

CONNECT: How are the ideas and information presented CONNECTED to what you already knew? 

EXTEND: What new ideas did you get that EXTENDED or pushed your thinking in new directions? 

CHALLENGE: What is still CHALLENGING or confusing you? What questions do you now have? 

Activities and extras

The learning generated through engaging with this playlist could be reinforced using this suggested activity:

  • If you want to explore how gender-based harassment perpetuates in the streets, listen to the ABC Conversations podcast with Eleanor Gordon-Smith where she discusses her experiment of challenging men who had cat called or wolf whistled at her when she was walking down the street and what she learnt from her conversations with them.