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Bob or Betty the Builder? TIH chats to ABC about children, gender stereotypes and careers

- April 20, 2015

On Sunday April 19, our CEO Anita Kumar was interviewed on ABC TV's Weekend Breakfast show about how simple activities at The Infants' Home' can encourage critical thinking in children to challenge gender stereotypes.

Anita Kumar chats on ABC TV Weekend Breakfast, April 19 10.35am, 2015

After discovering that gender stereotypes around career choices often start in children as young as four years old,  ABC TV's Weekend Breakfast contacted The Infants' Home for comment.  They were inspired by our web story on the hair salon activity at Johnson House, which encouraged children to think about and challenge gender stereotypes in careers such as hair dressing. 

In conversation with the shows' hosts Auskar Surbakti and Miriam Corowa, Anita discussed how childcare providers can serve as excellent facilitators to help expose and potentially change stereotypes. 

"Children are born to learn and whatever they learn at a young age lasts a lifetime. The early childhood education curriculum is underpinned by anti-bias, diversity and social justice principals", she said, ...children are the future of our society and any changes we can make will lead to a more harmonius society." Anita explained that most of the activities at The Infants' Home centre around play, and educators encourage children to explore and think about issues by asking open ended questions to develop a conversation. The hair salon activity for example, resulted from a child's comment about girls having long hair and boys having short hair. The salon created an environment for role playing and discussion about how boys or girls could enjoy or be good at hairdressing.

Show host Mariam noted that children get all sorts of messages from people around them about career paths for boys and girls, suggesting "...we've got Bob the Builder, perhaps we should have Betty the Builder?" Anita agreed, emphasising how important it is for children to be in inclusive environments that encourage conversations where children can develop their critical thinking abilities and make decisions about things by themselves, "...because children are often in situations where people make decisions for them, and it's important for them, at that young age, to be able to develop these skills." 

  

Children at The Infants' Home are encouraged to play, explore and ask questions.

You can read the article in The Conversation about gender steretypes and career choices here, and read The Infants' Home's hair salon web story here.

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