Four ways to raise young feminists
Heide Iravani and Emily Clifford reflect on societal gender norms and how to reshape them
Heide Iravani and Emily Clifford are the cofounders of Piccolina, a lifestyle brand dedicated to empowering today’s young children to become tomorrow’s leaders and problem solvers. Heide and Emily joined us this week to talk about the gender boxes we place around our children, the stereotypes and career paths that constrain them, and what we can do as parents to inspire creativity and equity in the next generation. Emily and Heide shared their own professional journeys from male-dominated industries to their experience over the past 18 months as young mothers and badass entrepreneurs. We talked about parenthood, gender stereotypes, and how to raise a generation of young feminists. It’s something we obviously care very deeply about, and we think you do too. Below we’ve compiled a list of ways that we as parents, teachers, friends, and whole communities can try to promote gender neutrality.
- Dissociate gender from clothing design – Look for clothes – maybe even dresses! – with trucks and trains for your young girls, and don’t be afraid to introduce pink and purple to boys. Breaking down the boundaries around clothes can go a long way in encouraging exploration and thoughtfulness about all sorts of possibilities that await children as they grow, rather than limiting them from a young age.
- Portray diverse leadership – Children absorb and reflect so much of what they see around them. One of the best things we can do is to make sure they are surrounded by strong female role models. Even the pictures, books, and movies they consume should reflect multiple genders, especially when it comes to storylines surrounding positions of power.
- Don’t correct stereotypical actions, just challenge them – Sometimes girls really love pink, and boys really love monster trucks. That’s okay! What matters is having space to explore both of those possibilities equally if a child wants to. It’s not necessary to tell children they can’t play with certain toys. What will have a lasting impact is teaching girls that pink princess dresses can also mean being a powerful leader.
- Be thoughtful about your language – Whether it be at a birthday party, sports game, or group play date, it’s often easy to reference a group of young children as “boys and girls” to command their attention. A fun way to be more gender neutral when addressing kids is to refer to them as the things you hope they’ll one day be! For instance, you could say “scientists and artists” or “climbers and runners” instead of girls and boys. This encourages children to think more about their skills and interests, and less about their gender.
For more helpful resources about how we as a society can help our communities promote gender-neutrality, visit:
- How to raise a feminist son
- Creating a more gender-inclusive classroom
- How to raise a feminist
- Making classrooms more inclusive