There is a serious struggle among our British teachers when it comes to teaching about feminism and gender discrimination. Many teachers in the UK don’t want to approach these subjects because — let’s be honest — it can be a little difficult. How do you even start explaining to primary school students that we should not be sexist and that we should learn to appreciate the different genders and actually promote gender equality?
It’s not just at the primary school level that teachers find it difficult to teach about feminism, but also at the secondary level. The biggest part of the problem, however, is not that teachers struggle to teach feminism — it’s that the students they are trying to teach don’t even see or recognize gender inequality even when it is obvious, and their inability to see when gender inequality is being practiced in the school environment is the leading cause of sexism in our schools. But how are these students going to see sexism and how it happens when the teachers themselves don’t see it?
The truth is that matters pertaining gender equality and sexism are difficult to discuss, but someone needs to talk about it. Turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to the situation is not going to help anyone, much less our kids, to understand how wrong sexism is and how to eradicate it.
In most cases, sexism and discrimination against women sounds the alarm. For many years now, women have been on the receiving end of discrimination because of their gender — and even some women choose not to recognize it. Like history teaches us, the first step towards solving any problem is recognizing the fact that there is, indeed, a problem, and we cannot get past this issue of gender inequality unless we recognize it and strategise on how to tackle it head on.
Research shows that a whopping 57 percent of men who enter the job market straight from college negotiate for their first salary, while only 7 percent of women do so. This data shows that women systematically underestimate themselves. Why are they not negotiating for themselves in the job market, and how do we get them to advocate for themselves?
The only way we can put an end to sexism in the next generation is by teaching children at a young age that men and women are equal and neither group deserves to be discriminated against. This will only happen if and when our teachers choose to recognize gender discrimination in our society, point them out for the students to see, and let the students know just how wrong it is. We need the next generation to be free of sexism and chauvinism and promote gender equality instead.
We also must teach children about feminism at a young age, letting them know what feminism is and why it is important for both boys and girls to fight for the rights of women in our society. Chimamanda Ngozi, a Nigerian writer and MacArthur Genius Grant recipient, put it plainly when she said that we should all be feminists, and that process starts early in a child’s education.
Feminism in the eyes of many people is a controversial term, but we need to learn it, we need to understand it, we need to embrace it and most importantly, we need to teach our kids about it. A world where men and women can be free to be themselves without being looked down upon will is a better world. Let us raise these children and teach them that their ability as individuals is more important than their gender. Change in this sector starts with us and is passed on to students by their teachers. In a few years, we can have a society free of sexism in which we will never hear the mention of gender discrimination or gender bias again.