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Examples of Sex Stereotyping in the Classroom

  • Explicit use of derogatory terms or stereotypical generalizations. For example, referring to a gay male as a fag; stereotyping all feminists as lesbians, or all lesbians as man-haters.
  • Use of “humorous” images or statements that demean or trivialize people because of gender or sexual orientation – e.g. blond jokes, portraying women as sex objects. Women who do not laugh, for example, at blond jokes, are frequently told that they have no sense of humor…but remember - the jokes are directed at women – why should they laugh? Would you expect a person whose skin color was the butt of a racist joke to laugh? If not, why would you expect it from women?
  • Reinforcing sexist stereotypes by using classroom examples that exclude women (if the topic is one traditionally associated with a male role) or men (if the topic is one traditionally associated with a female role). For example, always referring to scientists as men or primary teachers as female.
  • Continued use of the generic “he” or “mankind”. Although many people believe that this is an overrated issue - that mankind really does refer to both men & women, as does the word “he” when used to apply to both sexes – 25 years of research reveals that these terms invoke only masculine images. Students think of men when they hear mankind – not humankind.
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