Nov Retreat: “Gender Roles and Sexism in Schools aka Smashing Sexism”

Yesterday, we all presented our topics to the other approximately 30 students of What’s the Story?. Then, we had a large discussion to figure out what our groups and topics for the rest of the year are going to be.

Autism in schools is a pretty unique and interesting topic. However, I have chosen to go a completely different direction with my new topic: Gender Roles and Sexism in Schools aka Smashing Sexism. My group mates are Anna Buteau, Megan Balparda, and Theo Wells-Spackman and our mentor is Erik Remsen. Despite how different these topics are, I’m really excited to work on this.

Today, we created a plan for the next month. The four of us each have different jobs each week. This week, Megan is researching how many boys, girls, or non-binary people are in each class. Anna is creating a gender and sexism survey for teachers and Theo and I are creating a gender and sexism survey for students. Our hope is all the students at our schools (Middlebury UHS) will take the survey.

By Friday Nov 11, we will have created these surveys and we will edit them in our time together Friday afternoon. The next Monday Nov 13 we will present our surveys to someone at our schcool. We hope to hand out these surveys and get them back by Friday Nov 18. I will record the student surveys and Anna will record the teacher surveys.

The next week we will be meeting on Saturday Nov 19. By then we will have our survey’s results, Megan’s results about the genders of students and the genders of teachers in elementary, middle school, and high school, and the Youth Risk Survey’s results which may say something about eating disorders. That Saturday we will analyze the data and figure out what it means. We know the problem: there are gender roles and sexism in schools that lead to problems later in life like eating disorders, body image issues, and even a rape culture. However, we don’t know the solution. By analyzing this data, we will figure out the source of this problem, and use that to find the solution.

We will meet one more time after that before the December retreat, and we will plan what our goals from 11/20 – 12/1 are during our second meeting. We all have access to a shared folder, we all have each others’ emails, and we have a group chat. I have no doubt that we will easily stay in contact with each other, because even if we don’t talk to each other online, we all live in Middlebury.

Yesterday and today our group has made a lot of progress with figuring out exactly what we want to do. We are pairing up with the Breaking Binary Group. We are hoping to create a web series as a resource for teachers and students that are confused about gender, gender roles, and sexism.

As I said before, despite how different this topic is from my previous topic, I am very interested in it, and I am excited to see the change that my group can create.


Just Remember: Gender Roles are the worst kind of bread.

Emily Pecsok

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