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Teachers: PSHE: Prejudice

Last Updated: Tuesday February 28 2006 09:42 GMT

Career Stereotypes

PSHE 11-14/KS3/Levels E&F
Study and careers

The three boys who share the lead role of ballet dancer Billy Elliot in the West End stage show beat Ewan McGregor to a top acting award.

Their success dispels some of the preconceived ideas concerning activities and careers suitable for a particular gender.

This activity looks at ways of challenging these stereotypes.

Learning aims

By the end of the lesson, students should understand:

  • The meaning of prejudice and stereotype
  • Gender stereotypes in the work place
  • Ways of challenging them

Billy Elliot actors James Lomas, George Maguire, and Liam Mower

News-based comprehension

Read out this story and interview to the class.

The story, interview and following questions are available as printable worksheet 1.

Ask students:

1. Who won the award?
The three boys who share the lead role of Billy Elliot in the West End stage; James Lomas and George Maguire, 15, and Liam Mower, 13.

2. What award did they win?
Best actor at the Laurence Olivier Awards.

3. Name two unusual things about the award.
The boys are the youngest people to ever win an Olivier and it's the first time one has been awarded jointly.

4. How did James get into acting and singing?
When he was 11, he joined an amateur operatic society.

5. What do you think boys in James' school thought about him joining a singing and dancing group?

6. How did James feel about being the only boy?
He didn't care and he enjoyed being spoilt by the girls.

7. What would you think if a boy from your group joined a ballet class?


We asked readers of the CBBC Newsround website to tell us what their dream job was. Click below for a selection of their answers.

Main activity

Canadian boxer Katie Burton and Swiss boxer Christina Nigg

What's My Line? role play

Explain to students that they are going to look at jobs which are traditionally roles assigned to either men's or women.

Print and cut up these two lists of jobs. They are available as printable worksheet 2.

A boy draws a job at random from the boys' list and performs a short mime of that job.

The rest of the class ask questions that can only be answered with a "Yes" or "No."

Decide on a set number of questions for the class to ask before they can guess what the mystery job is.

A girl draws a job at random from the girls' list and performs a short mime of that job.

Again, the class ask the set number of "Yes" or "No" questions and guess the mystery job.

Ask students: Was it difficult to guess some of the jobs? Why?

Prejudice - an opinion formed beforehand
Stereotype - a conventional perception of something

Introduce the words stereotype and prejudice. Ask students for their definitions

Point out how limiting these concepts can be when deciding which career path to follow.

Extension activity

The gender gap

Explain to students that a recent found that women in full-time work are earning 17 per cent less than men.

Part of the reason for this is that many are in low-paid work traditionally assigned to women.

Source: Women & Work Commission

Five of these jobs begin with the letter C.

Ask students to guess the five Cs - low paid jobs traditionally assigned to women.

See Teachers' Background below for more information about the report.


Work experience

Explain to students: Work experience placements for pupils aged 14 or 15 are an area where traditional views of work may either be challenged or reinforced.

Young people frequently arrange their own placement through family contacts, often in stereotypical work areas.

Ask students: How can employers encourage young people to try non-traditional work?

Teachers' Background

Women & Work Commission report, February 2006

The report found that women in full-time work were earning 17% less than men.

In response to the findings of the Shaping a Fairer Future report, Prime Minister Tony Blair said: "All the evidence is that girls are performing extremely well at school."

"But from school through to the workplace, what the report shows is that we are wasting far too much talent."

One commission member, said women were paid less because the UK's education system failed to alert schoolgirls to the fact that their choices will determine what they earn.

But some teachers said the issue was a far wider and that society needed to provide girls with more, strong female role models.

Other statistics about women at work

  • 50 per cent of working women (and only 12 per cent of men) are still mainly employed in administration, secretarial, personal care and customer services.
  • Less than one in three managers are women.
  • Less than one in 12 skilled trades people are women.
  • 43 companies in the FTSE 100 index have no female directors.
The Law

The 1975 Sex Discrimination Act made it illegal to treat people differently in the workplace because of their sex.

You used to have to prove in court that you had been discriminated against but, from October 2001, the burden of blame is now on employers to prove that they didn't discriminate.

The Equal Opportunities Commission works to eliminate sex discrimination in 21st Century Britain. They have offices in London, Manchester, Wales and Scotland.

At school

Children develop ideas about the roles of men and women even before they start school. They are often reinforced by many different influences including parents, teachers and the media.

The introduction of the National Curriculum in the 1980s meant that all young people studied English, Maths and Science up to the age of 16. This removed many of the gender inequalities in subject take-up that previously existed.

Findings show that few people study subjects or jobs that they associate with the opposite sex either at school or college or in the training and careers later in life.

12,000 young people enrolled on GNVQs (England and Wales) and SCOTVECs (Scotland) in 2000. But the occupational choices on GNVQs and SCOTVECs are strongly stereotyped:

  • Girls largely training to be hairdressers.
  • Boys to be car mechanics and computer specialists.
Curriculum relevance

PSHE Key Stage 3 National Curriculum guidelines

1e. Relate job opportunities to their personal qualifications and skills, and understand how the choices made at key stage 4 should be based not only on a knowledge of personal strengths and aptitudes, but also on the changing world of work.
3a. The effects of all types of stereotyping, prejudice, bullying, racism and discrimination and how to challenge them assertively.

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