It’s the truth – gender stereotypes affect everyone!
No matter your gender identity, there are generalized views or preconceived ideas about how boys, girls, men and women are supposed to behave and act in every society.
Here in Canada and in many other countries where we work, harmful gender stereotypes create barriers that can prevent people from reaching their true potential. Gender-based judgements or biases can damage a person’s self-esteem, inhibit their capacity to develop personal abilities, and even deter them from pursuing careers paths that don’t align with traditional norms.
But there is no better time than RIGHT NOW to fight back and speak out against what people think a man, woman, boy or girl should be! Because in the end, we are all humans with unlimited potential and we ARE equal!
Meet 6 inspiring and empowered Canadian youth who are speaking out for change and sharing their thoughts on damaging gender stereotypes that affect many of us:
‘I think the most damaging gender stereotypes for women are the ones projected through media. Advertisements for example sell more than products; they sell values, behaviours and ideas about gender norms. Moreover, girls in my community are constantly surrounded by inevitable messages reinforcing that females are passive damsels in distress dependent on adventurous and brave males to save them.
Although media negatively feeds these harmful stereotypes, I also believe media can be a part of the solution by using it as a tool to bring on social change.”
“I believe that the most harmful stereotype directed towards women and girls is the idea that we are weak and helpless.
Girls between the ages of 10 and 13 are at their most vulnerable and impressionable stage in life, so when they are continually told they are less capable than their male counterparts, they begin to believe it. This affects girls for the rest of their lives, and limits their hopes and dreams for the future.
It is vital that girls stand up tall and proud to show the world that we are powerful, strong, and ready to take on any challenge that comes our way.”
“I personally think the most damaging stereotype that is put onto men is that showing any sort of emotion is not okay. As a result guys are forced to suck it up and eventually over time it builds up in creating an unhealthy self-image and influencing future relationships.
Men have a higher suicide rate than women and I feel like this stereotype is one of the reasons… it’s not socially accepted to say how you feel about anything without risking being made fun of so people just let their emotions stay inside them.
Best way to overcome this stereotype: find good friends who will be willing to listen to you and will not judge you if you convey these sorts of emotions!”
“When women demonstrate traditionally feminine traits – showing emotion and sensitivity; having a predominantly caring personality; choosing motherhood over other professions – they are perceived as fragile, powerless creatures who cannot wield power effectively. This stereotype is harmful and counterproductive for all women.
Femininity is not seen as capable of being powerful, and women are often forced to sacrifice one part of their lives over the other. Women of colour must face increased barriers when attempting to reach positions of power, because there are entrenched racist beliefs in tandem with sexism that undermine the abilities of women of colour.
When can we start to consider women as full, complex, people who are allowed to express their femininity, masculinity, power, weakness, or any other traits they possess to the world?”
“As someone who has worked in advocating for female involvement in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields, I think telling females that they are not analytical enough is the most damaging gender stereotype.
This includes classifying them as “people smart” and “social”. Even though these qualities are valuable, they should not only be attributed to females as this discourages them from pursuing careers that may require interaction with machines, instead of people, for instance. Ultimately, this contributes to the shortage of females in STEM fields and may limit them from achieving their full potential.”
“We often talk about hegemonic masculinity as being the perpetrator for all things relevant to gender inequality. What we often don’t realize is this notion of “being a man” influences those that identify as male as well.
Likewise to stereotypical gender roles that also affect females, being a man is a notion that is unrealistic and not necessarily defined, but is expected to somehow be achieved. This is where my/our work with Plan International Canada comes into play: although this notion damages both males and females, we can target the issue at its roots and engage all genders to move forward and beyond these gender norms and stereotypes to make an effective difference.”
You can also speak up for change!
Want to stand up for gender equality? Take a leadership role in your community?
Apply to join our Speakers Bureau and create positive change through the Because I am a Girl movement. Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more tips on how you can get involved!