Redraw the balance

Gender stereotypes are defined by 5-7 years of age. We help to broaden the aspirations and interests of children about jobs and careers.

It’s time to #Redrawthebalance.

66 children were asked to draw a picture of a firefighter, a surgeon and a fighter pilot. 61 drew men, five drew women. They were then asked if they would like to meet real-life versions of their drawings. Returning to the classroom in their uniforms, revealing themselves not to be teachers were Tamzin Cuming, NHS Consultant Colorectal Surgeon, Homerton University Hospital, Lucy Masoud, Fire Fighter, London Fire Brigade and Flt Lt Lauren an active RAF pilot.

The film was shot on location at Whitstable Junior School in Kent with 20 children between the ages of 5 and 7. It was produced for the charity pro-bono by MullenLowe and the team included Richard Denney, Executive Creative Director, Kat Encanto and directed by Matt Huntley. They also produced individual pieces on the three women about their experience of working in roles traditionally dominated by men, the barriers they overcame and the challenges they still face.

Since the 2016 video, versions have been created in Denmark, China and Canada.

Filmed in Helsingør near Copenhagen, a class of 6-year-old students is asked to draw a picture of a captain on a ship and an engineer, before being introduced to a real captain and engineer. Made for international container logistics company Maersk, the film shows gender stereotypes are ingrained from a very early age.

In China, the British Council made a version with Chinese children being asked to draw a surgeon, racing driving and naval officer.

Over in Canada, the Greater Victoria School District in British Columbia visited a Grade 3 classroom to find out what Canadian children think about gender stereotyping in the workplace.

In South Africa, in a version created by non-profit VVOB, children were asked to draw a doctor, a police officer and a fire fighter before meeting women working in these roles.

As well as inspiring versions in Denmark, China and Canada, the exercise has been recreated by the United Nations and referenced by UN Women, OECD, UNESCO, World Economic Forum and many others.

Plan your own activity to challenge gender stereotypes – find out how to get started.