On Billboards…

Okay… so here’s something I’ve been thinking about… Every day on my way to work, I pass a CalTrans billboard that says, “Be alert, my Dad’s at work”…
http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist05/paffairs/misc_pr/caltrans_billboard_safety_campaign_6_18_14.pdf
My initial reaction was, “Yeah! A poster on the importance of Dads!” My second reaction (surprisingly quickly) was, “Hey, Moms can be highway workers too!”
Which led me to applaud my anti-bias mentors for instilling such an awareness in me. However, have the anti-bias leaders instilled an equal awareness when it comes to the lack of representation of men in nurturing roles? Do our female colleagues, upon seeing an advertisement/posting depicting women in caring roles immediately think, “Hey, Men can be nurturers too!”?
Research suggests that even the textbooks used to teach ECE disproportionately depict women working with children in the photos. And when men ARE depicted, they are rarely depicted in situations where they initiate touch with a child.
In a comparison of Type of Touch between Teacher and Child by gender of adult as depicted in textbooks (TTC = Teacher Touches Child CTT = Child Touches Teacher MNT = Mutually Negotiated Contact) by Gilbert and Williams, 2008, photos which depicted men touching children were highly under-represented.
http://ecrp.uiuc.edu/v10n2/gilbert.html
We must integrate the same level of awareness among all of ECE colleagues of the harmful gender biases that impact men as they have for the biases that harm women. Make this a part of the trainings that you give, the conversations that you have and the advocacy work that you do.

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