In eighth grade design class at Virgin Islands Montessori School and Peter Gruber International Academy, students celebrated International Women's Day by completing an exercise that explored gender roles. Prior to starting the exercise, Ms. Jamie Truax, Middle Years Program Math and Design teacher, made sure not to explain the purpose of the activity beforehand. “I told each student to get out a sheet of paper and divide it into 8 sections” Truax said, adding that students were told they would have 1 minute to draw a picture in each section. Truax then instructed her class to draw a nurse, doctor, firefighter, scientist, astronaut, politician, gardener, and artist.
Afterwards, Truax explained that the purpose of the exercise was to explore gender roles in recognition of International Women's Day - a day intended to celebrate female achievements throughout history and across nations. At the conclusion of the exercise, data was tallied on the board. “We counted how many women, men, and gender neutral pictures were drawn for each occupation. We were surprised by some of our results!” said Truax.
Truax explained the results noting that she wasn’t surprised that most students drew a woman nurse and artist. They were however surprised and excited that most students drew women scientists, and were not so surprised to see that most students drew male politicians. The eighth grade class concluded that most people drew gender neutral firefighters and astronauts because they wear so much gear it's hard to tell if they're a woman or a man.
Truax added that “it's important to explore gender equality in schools and make it known that anyone has the potential to grow up and have any occupation. Doing this exercise was a fun way to explore how we stereotype without even knowing it.” One student said, "This was a fun activity to do on International Women's Day. I learned a lot about how we perceive different jobs".
Happy International Women's Day!