- Elizabeth Broderick says it could help stop violence towards women later in life
- Gender champion wants children at preschool to read about men as nurturers
- Supports literature which shows children ‘that boys and girls can do anything’
- Critics have slammed Ms Broderick’s call as ‘political correctness gone mad’
Children should be read gender-equal books instead of fairy tales of knights and princesses.
That’s the view of former sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick, who believes exposing children to gender-neutrality at preschool could help solve issues of pay disparity and violence towards women later in life.
‘A lot of what our children see and are taught is subconscious gender stereotyping and what we have to do is really shift that, and we won’t shift that until the social norms change,’ she told The Sunday Telegraph.
Ms Broderick said children’s literature in Scandinavian countries helps ‘children understand that boys and girls can do anything.
‘Their picture books are ones which show men in caring roles and women as scientists, through to looking at the division of unpaid work and the role of women in building the economy.
‘I think we really need more of that approach here and it’s not just putting all the men in caring roles and all the women as scientists. It is showing men and women in the diversity of roles,’ she said.
Critics have slammed Ms Broderick’s call as ‘political correctness gone mad’.
Kevin Donnelly, director of the Education Standards Institute, told the publication that there was a real risk of ‘damaging boys’.
‘It is wrong to try and attempt to indoctrinate children with a politically correct gender agenda.
‘It runs counter to human nature and what most parents want for their children – and it could be damaging to boys and their development’.
‘Biologically girls and boys are different. Girls have a more nurturing role as mothers and wives which is different to what men are.’
Critic and entrepreneur Dick Smith told the paper: ‘I’d much rather we weren’t trying to make young girls aggressive by changing the messages they are getting. I’d much rather young girls continue to be nurturing, kind and understanding.’
Sam Page, CEO of Early Children Australia, told the paper he applauded Ms Broderick’s call to introduce children to gender-equal ideas through books at school and wants parents to get board too.
‘We’ve had examples where parents and dads have been really upset when boys dress up in dresses or traditional girls clothing as part of their normal play.
‘While I don’t think we should get rid of fairy tales altogether, we do need to contextualise and balance them with contemporary stories as well,’ she said.
H/t reader kevin a.
* * *