“Draw a pilot or mechanic!” This was the simple instruction given to my middle school classes this week. After the initial confusion over my request, they committed to the task and got busy drawing. At the end of the exercise, I said, “Raise your hand if you drew a female pilot or mechanic.” The majority of my students drew a male because that was either their point of reference or the profession of their dad. However, some were also honest and said that they traditionally thought of a man as a mechanic or pilot. This exercise created a space for us to start a conversation about implicit and explicit biases about gender. This activity was motivated by International Women’s Day, which is observed on March 8th and the theme this year was: “Embracing Equity.”
It is important to reflect on the world and our daily lives from time to time so that we are not operating on autopilot. To encourage this self-reflection, we defined a few key terms such as bias, stereotype, equity and equality. To be mindful of how we interact with each other, we must first define these constructs and examine how they operate within ourselves. The class engaged in discussion about commonly held stereotypes and started to unpack their own biases.
Part of being human is being uniquely you; we all have different needs and the difference between equality and equity highlights this. Equality is the condition where everyone is treated in the same way. Equity is the quality of being fair and impartial, recognizing that each person has different circumstances and needs. Which world would you rather live in?
Elementary/ Middle School Counselor