Whole School Equality Programme: Gender Champions

Gender stereotypes can influence the way we behave, the choices we make and how we react to other people.

They can restrict what we think is possible for ourselves and others, even when there are no visible barriers in the way. There is increasing evidence to show that gender stereotypes affect subject choice, with less girls taking physics and maths, and affect student behaviour, with boys having difficulty dealing with emotions and girls having lower confidence, but also plenty of evidence to demonstrate that we can change this pattern.

The whole school equality programme supports schools to make small changes to their school environment, which can lead to big changes in student outlook. We currently support around 40 schools with this programme and we have just received further funding to extend and accelerate the programme, which will consist of the three following parts:

Funding for whole school CPD on unconscious bias and gender equality
For change to happen across the school, all staff need to understand why the programme is important. Unconscious bias training was found to be a main driver to change of classroom practice in our pilots. Schools currently registered on our whole school programme already have access to training from our gender balance officers. Schools that sign up for the gender champions programme will also be eligible for funding for whole-school CPD. The CPD could focus on unconscious bias, or any other gender issue that the school has highlighted as a priority, such as how staff respond to sexist behaviour or bullying.

Gender champion training residential
There is a free two-day residential course on the 9/10 February. They will bring together new and existing Gender Champions to discuss best practice and share ideas, led by our experienced Gender Balance Officers and shaped by leading research in the sector. Sessions will include topics like "Why Gender Inequality Is A Problem and How You Can Tackle It in your School" and "Unconscious Bias and Gender Stereotyping – what are they and why do they matter?", as well as a wide range of sessions focused on equipping gender champions with the skills and knowledge to lead on gender equality within their schools.

Funding for further events
We see tackling gender stereotyping as crucial to improving the gender balance of physics A-level, as well as having a myriad of other positive effects in a school. We are keen that after successfully completing the training, schools will spread the knowledge gained from the initial training to other schools within the local area and their partners. Therefore we are offering a funding pot of £15,000 for events and activities that help schools talk about gender stereotypes with other schools, whether at a teach meet, an academy chain training day or a training school session, for example.

Registration for this programme has now closed. Please contact wholeschoolequality@iop.org or sign up for our newsletter to hear more about further projects.

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