If you think that sexism is a thing of the past, then it’s safe to say that you’re ignorant. Instances of discrimination, prejudice, and harmful gender expectations remain the norm. However, you would have thought that, if nothing else, an education in 2017 would be fair and equal.
Well, not at one particular school in New South Wales, Australia.
Stephen Callaghan was outraged when a clear-cut instance of sexism occurred at Dubbo West Public School which his 10-year-old daughter Ruby attends. He wrote a letter to the school after learning that girls and the boys were being treated differently based on their gender.
It goes without saying that schools exist to teach subjects that children will need later in life. So making assumptions about the kind of activities that girls should be engaging in versus the kind of activities that boys should be engaging is incredibly damaging, to say the least.
We all know how impressionable kids are and how quickly they pick up on subtle differences in the way certain people are treated. Callaghan started his letter by implying, in a very humorous manner, that his daughter must have time traveled from the present into the past.
“I must draw your attention to a serious incident which occurred yesterday at your school where my daughter is a year six student,” he wrote. “When Ruby left for school yesterday it was 2017, but when she returned home in the afternoon, she was from 1968.”
Callaghan then went on to explain that his daughter told him that the boys and girls were being segregated so that the boys could receive a male education at a hardware store and the girls could learn about all things hair and makeup.
“I know this to be the case as Ruby informed me that the ‘girls’ in Year 6 would be attending the school library to get their hair and makeup done on Monday afternoon while the ‘boys’ are going to Bunnings,” he continued.
The enraged father then continues along the theme of time travel – the only reasonable explanation for segregating the students in this way.
“Are you able to search the school buildings for a rip in the space-time continuum? Perhaps there is a faulty Flux Capacitor hidden away in the girls’ toilet block?” he wrote.
“I look forward to this being rectified and my daughter and other girls at the school being returned to this millennium where school activities are not divided sharply along gender lines.”
Callaghan felt so passionate about highlighting the injustice of it all that he tweeted a screenshot of the letter for his followers to read. Little did he know that the letter would receive as much attention as it did. As of today, it has been retweeted by a whopping 1.7k Twitter users!
Clearly, people are still very concerned that sexism continues to plague schools throughout the world.
Responses from other Twitter users soon began pouring in, and they were mainly in the form of anecdotes of their own experiences of sexism in learning institutions. It is, unfortunately, a problem that has existed for decades and shows no signs of lessening.
“This reminds me of Women In Aviation Week a few years ago,” Twitter user Mark Newton wrote, “where an event invitation ended with ‘Ladies: Bring a plate.’ I wrote back and suggested that maybe they mistyped ‘plane’ and should issue a correction.”
It turns out that Callaghan’s comparison of his daughter Ruby’s education with that of a child from 1968 was not far off according to this Twitter user, who reflected on her experience as a child in the early 1970s…
“Good on you,” Robyn Thompson wrote. “Reminds me of my primary school in the early 70s where the girls did embroidery while the boys did sport. At least embroidery involved a skill though.”
Twitter user Tasmin Waby also weighed in on the discussion and described the sexist culture that still exists in her children’s school.
“My kids also had coloring-in sheets handed out once during a rained in lunch period with princesses and superheroes. Naturally, they pulled the teacher up on their error very politely – as expected for girls (though inwardly truly exasperated!).”
Sexism is rampant in all aspects of society and it can take many different forms. Watch the video below to learn about how women are being discriminated against in video games and comic book culture: