My daughter's assembly - am I overreacting?

(121 Posts)
flybynight Fri 26-Apr-13 11:20:02

My y5 daughter is studying "significant people" this term. On the first day, she came home effusing about all the significant people they had looked at. She reeled off a list of about 25 men and, with prompting, remembered 2 women. Tanni Grey Thompson and Marie Curie. Very good.

I wrote a friendly note to her teacher pointing out that the male female ratio there could be misconstrued and that, regardless of history's bias in favour of men, children could easily think that men were more "significant" than women. There was no response to the note which is fine. I do know he read it though as my daughter saw him.

Anyway, today was assembly. All about significant people. 18 men mentioned. Two women. I'm really dismayed. And angry. Women's history is intrinsic and equal to my mind. Not a ghetto or a side street.

What should I do? I'm thinking speak to the head. I don't want to make a big fuss (typical woman!) but my gut instinct is that this is not right. What would you do? What would Germaine do?

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Fri 26-Apr-13 12:58:27

A Thing Sorry, i meant it is relevant but in a different way- they should have focused on why there were so few famous women rather than making the numbers equal.

dragongirlx Fri 26-Apr-13 12:58:29

What about Laura Bates - Everyday Sexism Project

Alibabaandthe40nappies Fri 26-Apr-13 12:58:45

AThing - x-posts. Great minds... wink

totallystumped Fri 26-Apr-13 12:59:30

IIRC Queen Anne was the first Queen Regnant of Britain.
Mary and Elizabeth were Queens (Regnant) of England and Ireland
Other queens were Queens Consort (Queen only because they married the king)

Are these supposed to be the twenty MOST significant people in the world ever, or just a selection of twenty significant people?

If the former, then WTF on a whole scale of bogglement quite above and beyond the gender imbalance. If (as seems overwhelmingly more likely) it's the latter then there's no reason they can't ensure equal representation.

slug Fri 26-Apr-13 13:00:03

Off the top of my head

Science/Computing/Engineering
Hypatia
Grace Hopper
Ada Lovelace
Sally Ride
Rosalind Franklin
Jane Goodall
Amelia Earhart

Politics/Economics
Mo Mowlam
Christine Lagarde
Indira Gandhi
The Pankhursts
Helen Clark (longest serving female PM in a Western Democracy)
Mary Wollenstonecraft
Kate Sheppard (my NZ bias is showing)

Humanitarianism
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee, Tawakkol Karman (Nobel Peace Prize 2011)
Rosa Parks
Marie Stopes (despite the eugenics)

There are many sites that list plenty of notable women

HalleLouja Fri 26-Apr-13 13:01:35

Was going to suggest Maggie.

DumSpiroSpero Fri 26-Apr-13 13:02:53

I would definitely be raging have words, not least about their choice of the Queen as one of the two significant women on the list.

With the best will in the world, she was just born to the right family. Not saying she hasn't done the job to the best of her ability, but she's hardly comparable with the likes of Szabo, Pankhurst, Curie et al.

AThingInYourLife Fri 26-Apr-13 13:03:39

"Why not Jessica Ennis instead of Mo Farah, or Madonna instead of Michael Jackson?"

Ali, sometimes I think I am just a defective version of you smile

Richman - yes I agree. An "equal" list would fool nobody. Although they could have done it with that list without raising eyebrows.

oohaveabanana Fri 26-Apr-13 13:03:52

So Pele & Jensen Button are 2 of the most significant people ever? Wha?

I think there are some bigggggg questions about that list!

Culturally, I really stuggle to see Tolkien as the most influential writer since the 8th century, or however far back they're going. I reckon most people might just pop that Shakespeare chap higher....

Agree with richmanpoorman that other than the 'ticking two boxes' thing, it's hard to see TGT, fab as she is, as being more 'significant' than the Pankhursts or Queen Elizabeth I.....

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 26-Apr-13 13:04:53

She's more significant than Mo Farrah though.....

Am shock at that list.
I was going to say go with notcitrus' idea of why it's always the white men who get remembered, but that list is awful and needs challenging.

AThingInYourLife Fri 26-Apr-13 13:05:31

To put the Queen on and leave off Thatcher is bizarre.

Like her or loathe her, she was an extremely influential politician.

VirtuousVamp Fri 26-Apr-13 13:05:52

Anne Frank/Helen Keller/ even JK Rawling.....!

Was it a class initiated list which probably says more about the facts children are currently aware of than the guidance of the teacher? Which looking at that list is worrying in itself!! Everyone knows Coulthard is the one to go for!! wink

seeker Fri 26-Apr-13 13:09:46

I was so depressed that my dd did is in year 12 and in the 6 years she's been studying history in an girl's school there hasn't even been a nod to women's history. It's not even available as a GCSE topic!

AThingInYourLife Fri 26-Apr-13 13:09:49

Even if it were class initiated, the teacher's job was to challenge them and encourage critical thinking.

That list is so lazy.

AThingInYourLife Fri 26-Apr-13 13:10:50

seeker! shock

That is shameful.

PhyllisDoris Fri 26-Apr-13 13:19:48

Got to have Queen Elizabeth II surely?
Virginia Wade
Stella McCartney
Margaret Thatcher (she WAS the first ever female PM, politics aside)
Helen Sharman (British female astronaut)
Rosa Parks
Diane Abbot
Nancy Astor - first female MP
Margot Fontey - great ballet dancer

Alibabaandthe40nappies Fri 26-Apr-13 13:22:23

Seeker I am in two minds about 'women's history' as a separate subject. On the one hand it is of course absolutely important, but on the other to segregate it into it's own topic as if it is somehow 'other' to mainstream history is not what's needed, IMO.

Schools need to be better at correcting the male bias and pointing out that it exists.

DS1 is only in Reception so we haven't really come up against this issue yet, but I do keep my beady eye out!

AThing defective! shock grin

flybynight Fri 26-Apr-13 13:25:39

I believe that the children chose the content, but there was obviously some guidance going on or the medieval Indian mathematician wouldn't have made the list. He was included purely to lasso in the current maths topic for coverage.

It is easy for children to choose male figures, history is full of successful white men as we know. The role if teacher should have been to ensure balance, and perhaps a bit of debate about the nature of history. I think he failed in this quite spectacularly, particularly as it had already been pointed out to him 10 days before. And that was long before he started planning the assembly.

seeker Fri 26-Apr-13 13:26:32

I agree up to a point. However, as dd studied the American Civil Rights movement twice, and it was also a possible A level topic.....

seeker Fri 26-Apr-13 13:27:53

Fortunately for dd (or unfortunately, depending on your point of view!) I was fully able to fill in the gaps..........

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 26-Apr-13 13:31:05

Ah, but civil rights was primarily a man thing. So that's OK. grin sad

MmeThenardier Fri 26-Apr-13 13:34:05

Jensen fucking Button? I'm just incensed that he was included in the absence of hundreds of women.

Wow this teacher must really lack imagination or be incredibly stupid.

MiniTheMinx Fri 26-Apr-13 13:34:14

Women's history.........you can't leave out Gerda Lerner

Lerner was one of the founders of the field of women's history introducing courses into H.E specifically aimed at uncovering women's history.

and can I suggest

Clara Zetkin
Julia Scurr
Rosa Luxemburg

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