The Great North Museum: Hancock is to open an exhibition exploring the effects of male stereotypes on year fives.
Newcastle University researchers have been working with Year Five pupils at three primary schools in North Tyneside and children’s charity Barnardo’s to examine issues around gender, power and equality.
The students were asked to take part in several workshops where they talked about what it means to be a man in society. During these sessions, they questioned the assumptions about masculine identities and gender stereotypes.
The Year fives have since made artworks illustrating their responses to these discussions and will be part of The Hancock’s Boys to Men exhibition, which opens on 22 October.
Professor Anoop Nayak of Newcastle University said , “The current debate about gender and sexual harassment in politics, sport and media, and the stigma that surrounds boys and men speaking up about their feelings, offers a depressing picture of ‘toxic masculinity’.
“This is having a profound impact on young people. The art that the children have created aims to start a conversation about what it means to be a man and move beyond the macho stereotypes towards a more diverse concept of masculinity.”
Some of the children worked in groups when creating the artworks, and some chose to work alone. The project is the first of its kind to use Year Five primary school children to discuss the impact of gender stereotypes.
Researchers plan on developing a suite of online resources for teachers to use with their own students to look into these issues.
Tracy Bell, a team manager at Barnardo’s said, “It has been a fascinating experience to work with the children and start to understand their thoughts and ideas on gender stereotypes and what it means to be a man.
“This is a piece of work that needs to continue, to educate children on equality and respect for all.
“The digital resource available to all schools will enable this to happen and our dream is that it leads to happier relationships and a reduction in domestic abuse in the future.”