Gender Bias in Grade School

During "meet the teacher night" at my fifth grade daughter's school, the teacher presented as part of the curriculum an explanation of field trips. We were told that the girls will being going somewhere to learn how to set a proper table, table manners and social etiquette while the boys are going to hang out at the school, have a party and a presentation of possible career choices.

Just what decade are we in? Is this just a bad dream and am I in a 1950s time warp? I think this is sexist, unfair and demeaning to our daughters. It sends the message that they can't have a career choice or that they are not considered intelligent enough. I would like to see both activities offered to both genders. My mother thinks I'm making too much out of it. What do you think?

--An iVillage member
Question:

I agree whole-heartedly with your ire! This etiquette for girls and career advice for boys sounds like the 1950s. In our book, The Roller Coaster Years: Raising Your Child Through the Maddening Yet Magical Middle School Years, we tell parents what a good middle school curriculum should include and gender equity is an important issue.

Even in these enlightened times, there is still sexism in schools. Girls do poorly in math, boys suffer in verbal skills. Both boys and girls need help in particular areas of difficulty. Both would benefit from training in social etiquette in the climate of cruelty that prevails today. Ditto for career advice. I'd talk to other parents because I suspect that you are not the only one flipping out about this. Bring it to the Parent-Teacher Association and the Board of Education if you fail elsewhere. It's your school. It's up to you to advocate for your child, and you don't have to allow your child to be brainwashed in this antiquated fashion.

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