Sexist bullying makes it hard for girls to be ‘brainy and feminine’ at school

The TES is reporting claims that the pressure on girls to be quiet and attractive is ‘as great now as it ever has been’ as sexist bullying persists.

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL teaching union, said: “I think sexist bullying is the thing that doesn’t get talked about in school.

“I think for girls there is a very fine line between if you’re swotty and clever and you answer too many questions [then] you’re not attractive.

“If you were a girl, particularly an adolescent girl, there are so many names you can be called in school. There are very few for boys. It’s very hard for a girl to be brainy and feminine.”

She told journalists in a briefing before the conference that there was a “very big pressure” in all schools to “keep quiet and to listen to the boys talking”.

But Dr Bousted ..stressed that there was also a “hierarchy” in single-sex schools. “You still get that sorting into the brainees, the swots, and the ones who like boys,” she added.

A motion, to be heard at the conference in Liverpool on Tuesday, calls for members to be given greater assistance on how to tackle the problem in schools…

More at It is hard for girls to be ‘brainy and feminine’ at school, union leader says


Do you agree with these concerns expressed here by Dr Bousted? If so, what would you like to see happen to make a difference? Or maybe you have already had success changing the culture in your classrooms – please let us know how.

As an aside, and not wanting to detract from the point being made, but is there not an argument that we should perhaps be focussing more on the issues for boys as they are the ones who seem to be falling further and further behind in our education system at the moment? See, for example, this tweet from Professor Jackie Cassell in response to the Guardian’s coverage of the same story:

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  1. She told journalists ….that there was a “very big pressure” in all schools to “keep quiet and to listen to the boys talking”.

    Wasn’t like that where I taught.  Does she have evidence for this?

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