Pearson launches guidelines to tackle gender stereotypes in its education materials

Pearson launches guidelines to tackle gender stereotypes in its education materials

Pearson has committed to tackling gender bias and stereotyping in education, unrolling "first of its kind" gender equality guidelines for the resources it produces. 

The guidelines were created by members of the company's Women in Learning and Leadership (WILL) employee resource group, in collaboration with leading UK gender equality charity the Fawcett Society. According to the publisher, the group was "determined to respond to mounting evidence of the long-term and negative impact gender stereotyping has on children, and to see Pearson play a leading role".

The guidelines will be used to develop all of Pearson's future textbooks, digital resources and qualifications, and assist employees to set appropriate gender balances in texts and demonstrate how to "actively challenge gender bias and stereotypes". They include advice on language, designing questions and visuals for publications, using gender-neutral job titles and flipping stereotypes to promote women in "traditionally masculine roles" and vice versa. The initiative is to be immediately put in place across the publisher's seven locations in the UK, and the guidelines will be rolled out globally to its 22,500 employees in 70 countries over the next 12 months. 

Pearson has identified 25 internal leaders in the UK to act as gender equality advocates and complete multiple employee training workshops. 

Sharon Hague, senior vice-president of Pearson UK Schools, said:  “Gender stereotypes strike early and hit hard. The messages we give children, at home, at school and as a society, have a tremendous bearing on the choices we make. As the leading learning provider, Pearson has the power to support teachers to dispel gender bias, flip stereotypes and play an important part in opening up the choices available to young people. I’m delighted we’re releasing these guidelines, and believe they will be an invaluable tool to help us build gender-equal products.” 

When creating the guidelines, a spokesperson from Pearson said the company "recognised the importance of designing them to be respectful and inclusive of women, men and people with non-binary identities". The new scheme will sit under the umbrella of Pearson’s Global Editorial Policy and alongside similar sets of guidelines on race and ethnicity, LGBT and diversity, equity and inclusion. 

Sam Smethers, Fawcett Society chief executive, said: "We are really encouraged that staff at Pearson have recognised the importance of challenging gender stereotypes and want to play their part in making a change. These guidelines are a practical way to make a real difference. We are delighted to have contributed supportive challenge and review, and to train editorial and content staff in how to spread their use throughout the organisation.”