Schools have been urged to take sexist undertones more seriously, and prevent students from becoming pigeonholed by their gender.
Interviews into 10 different school uncovered a disparity between the opinions of higher management, and the opinions of staff and students on whether sexist comments still exist in the classroom and playground.
The report from this investigation stated: “The senior leadership team would assert there was no problem with sexist language, only for the classroom teachers to refer to some cases and the students to report that it was an everyday reality.”
This can cause problems for students, who are consciously or unconsciously persuaded away from certain subjects, a factor which becomes more of an issue when it comes to choosing GCSE subjects, A-level subject, or even university degrees.
The report acknowledged that all of the schools investigated had policies on their websites regarding sexist, racist, and homophobic bullying, but often the teachers themselves were unsure of these policies or how they should be implemented.
The Department of Education welcomed the report, and deemed it useful, but stopped short of agreeing to overhaul its policies. However, it said: “this Government wants young women to feel empowered to make choices about what they do with their life including their choice of career. No woman should feel that their gender is a barrier to their success and nor should they face stereotyping at any stage of their lives.
“Getting more girls into careers in science, technology and engineering is a key priority for this government, and is why we are encouraging more women to study STEM subjects – helping bridge a gap in our future economy and getting them on the path to some of the highest paid careers.”
However, the report also uncovered an equal amount of effects of gender stereotyping on male students, finding that they were more likely to “get caught up in a culture of not working hard.”
The investigation was carried out by the Institute of Physics, and was drawn up into a guide called Opening Doors.