How to Reduce Gender Discrimination

Strive to reduce gender discrimination from an early age.

In most countries, women receive second class status, with their rights severely restricted in many cases. Even in more advanced countries with laws to prevent gender discrimination, women still earn less than men and receive less respect. Reducing gender discrimination is a lofty goal with many obstacles. Though government regulations certainly help the situation, the real method to reduce gender discrimination is through education and changing the ways that people think about gender roles.

Pay attention to the ways that you form gender in your children's upbringing. Children learn gender at an early age from the people around them--little girls learn to play with dolls, while little boys play with trucks. Often, parents unwittingly encourage this type of gendered play, even going so far as to discourage their child from playing with a toy that is for the "other gender." Additionally, you may encourage a boy to be more active and a girl to play quietly. Watch your own actions and encourage your child to try all of the things that he may like.

Reduce gender discrimination in the classroom. Without realizing it, many teachers favor male students. This may come in the form of asking boys more difficult questions or interrupting girl students while they are speaking. Teachers should learn about gender discrimination, how they may be discriminating and what they can do to stop it.

Provide adequate health care to all people. Without health care, women are at a higher risk for death due to complications from pregnancy. This is especially true in developing countries.

Encourage critical thinking when it comes to the media. The media often represent negative images of both genders--women are stupid, weak and should be sexually available at all times; men should avoid their emotions and are animals that cannot control their sexual desires. As these types of images repeat, they become so enmeshed in the psyche of society that some people accuse a woman who's been sexually assaulted of deserving the assault. Through education on how to interpret the media, people can come to see that it doesn't represent real life.

Recruit men in the fight against gender discrimination. Gender discrimination happens because people think that men are better than women. It seems obvious that women would want to change the system, but men are less likely to want to give up their positions of power. However, when men take part in resisting gender discrimination--by treating women with respect, by paying female employees the same rates as men and by encouraging their sons to express feelings, for example--the movement towards gender equality is strengthened.

Maggie McCormick is a freelance writer. She lived in Japan for three years teaching preschool to young children and currently lives in Honolulu with her family. She received a B.A. in women's studies from Wellesley College.