For Families: Leaning Out Report Discussion Guide
Congratulations on taking an important step in confronting gender discrimination and bias.
Discussing gender can be challenging. For some youth, this is an immensely personal or even heated topic that brings up questions of equality and privilege. Others may question whether gender biases even exist. Finally, the idea that biases can be implicit—and discrimination unconscious—may itself be a novel, challenging concept to some teenagers. Fortunately, the payoff in broaching these topics is huge.
By allowing children to explore this topic, share ideas for improvement, and participate in community-building and empathy-promoting activities, you are taking steps towards ensuring that your home is a place where everyone is respected, supported, and empowered.
The following discussion questions may be useful for teenagers who have read the Leaning Out report or executive summary.
What in the report most surprised you? Least surprised you? Why?
This report reveals that many boys and girls tend to prefer male political leaders over female political leaders.
Why do you think this is?
Why is it problematic?
How are female political leaders frequently portrayed?
Is this the same or different than male political leaders?
If it is different, how is it different?
This report notes that many boy and girl students prefer men as leaders in fields like business, while they prefer women as leaders in roles like child care directors and art program directors.
What do you think of this finding?
Is there any truth to the idea that men and women are better suited for particular fields?
Students in the report were most likely to support giving more power to the student council when it was led by white boys and least likely when it was led by white girls. The difference in support was small. Does this surprise you? Why or why not?
Why might girls and women prefer boys as student council leaders? Why wouldn’t they want to pick themselves as leaders?
Do you think most people in your school would prefer boy leaders over girl leaders? Why or why not?
What types of bias or discrimination—if any—do you see in your school? Home? In the community? In the news?
What can you do when you see gender-based discrimination? What should you not do?
What can be done at home to better promote gender equity? What can teenagers do? Adults?
What can be done outside of home to better promote gender equity—in places such as the community and greater society?
Try the following activities with your children to expand their discussion and learning around gender bias and to move out of their comfort zones.
Ask youth to participate in a series of quiet reflective writing exercises about what is it like (or, for boys, what they think it must be like) to be a girl. Allow youth to share their writing, if they feel comfortable doing so. Try the same activity asking to reflect on what it is
like to be a boy.
Have they ever felt discriminated against?
Felt different than men?
Challenge youth to think about how gender roles have continued to evolve over time. Invite youth to interview a person of a different generation. How were women treated when they were growing up? Has society changed its expectations of women? What challenges or discrimination do women still face today?
Last reviewed October 2018.