Gender stereotypes and inequality in education persist in all Council of Europe member states

Business PeopleA conference in Helsinki on 9-10 October will show how gender equality in Europe lags far behind in practice, even though the vast majority of Council of Europe member states have enacted laws promoting equality between women and men in education.

Findings from a new monitoring report will reveal that since the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers approved a recommendation on gender mainstreaming in education, gender equality programmes in education have not been fully carried out and that sterotypes persist throughout the education systems in all 47 member states of the Council of Europe.

From raising awareness among government officials and school professionals on persisting inequalities in education, to exchanging “good practices” that promote an education free from gender stereotypes, the conference – organised by the Council of Europe and the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture – will include many educators, NGOs, and government leaders.

Participants will discuss why stereotyping presents a serious obstacle to achieving gender equality and how it feeds into gender discrimination and limits the development of the natural talents and abilities of boys and girls and women and men. They will highlight education as an essential to combat stereotypes and to bring about social and cultural change, as it shapes gender representations, attitudes and behaviour.

They will assess the impact of the school system on masculine and feminine identities, how curricula and school textbooks used in European countries still include stories and images that reflect a stereotyped roles and activities of women and men, girls and boys and that men are still more often represented than women.

Speakers at the conference include guest of honour Tarja Halonen, former President of the Republic of Finland.

To provide examples of ‘best practices’ the conference will highlight successful programmes enacted by member states to promote gender equality in education, such as the following:

  • Boys’ Day in Germany, which motivates boys and young men aged 10 to 17 to learn about fields more commonly associated with girls, including nursing or the service sector.
  • Gender in the blender in Belgium, secondary education teaching material that de-emphasizes the traditional divide between men and women
  • Gender sensitivity in early childhood education in Finland, which for example mixes toys in the room so that children invented new games that de-emphasized traditional gender specific play things

More information:

Päivi Suhonen
Press correspondent for the Council of Europe in the Nordic countries
+ 46 70 090 66 11

Panos Kakaviatos
Media Officer and Spokesman
Directorate of Communications
Council of Europe

Tel +33 (0)3 90 21 50 27
Follow me on Twitter @PanosCOE

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