It is Women's History Month 2022, leading towards International Women's Day on 8th March.
In ELT materials, although I think the industry has made some progress in terms of gender equality, there are still steps to climb until we can be satisfied that we have done all we can. I still see that there is a tendency to stereotype gender roles and what is 'expected' of them. I don't think that there is really an expectation of what people do according to their gender - we just exist. But this still needs to change.
I do think, though, that we must forget about intersectionality - for me, it's a key word and concept, and is integral in everything I do.
I think the same goes for men, but we often see very much a white, non-disabled, heteronormative portrayal of women, but this, I think, is changing. Well, at least one third of that is. In my current project, part of my role is to compile a photo brief - and now I know, first-hand, how difficult it is to get accurate representation through photos. I am pleased to have made some choices, with alternatives for most and I hope that particular ones get chosen. None of the photos you will see here are ones I have chosen, just in case.
I realise that we are getting some representation of disabled people and characters in ELT books and materials and there is better representation of women from different backgrounds. However, it would be good to get away from the 'all disabled people are in wheelchairs', because this is a very real stereotype. The photo above comes from a free website, although there are limited images. The photo below comes from a website with a huge range of stock photos, but is unfortunately, not free. However, I'd love to see real and accurate representation like this - don't forget that when we do this, we need to do our research, talk to people with lived experience so that we can represent accurately.
One thing that I don't see changing as quickly, is the representation of lesbians, non-binary people and trans women. (Obviously men too, but this is Women's month). It would be incredible to see photos (and accurate stories and depictions - research!!) of similar as below from the Gender Spectrum collection:
There has been progress - just see DLA's work here.
This, of course, is only a blog post, but I hope it goes some way into showing what we can achieve, especially when we work together, to create truly accurate and well-represented materials.
Usually at the end of each blog post, I ask for donations to my own cause by buying me a coffee (really, so I can get more training). But not this one. Please have a look at the following charities:
Imkaan - the only UK-based, umbrella women's organisation dedicated to addressing violence against Black and Minoritised women and girls.
Women's Aid - working against domestic abuse until women and children are safe.
Ava Project - committed to ending gender based violence and abuse.
Women for Women - helps women survivors of war rebuild their lives.
Sisters of Frida - bringing disabled women together, mobilising and sharing through lived experiences.
Gendered Intelligence - to increase understanding of gender diversity and improve trans people's quality of life.