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Men only school workshop

(36 Posts)
Littlepaleale Thu 07-May-15 22:39:22

Sometime lurker and first poster on feminist chat so please be gentle with me.

My reception aged, DD brought a letter home from school today inviting 'Dads and male careers' to a series of technology skills workshops.

I'm outraged and working out how to respond.

Schools should be hypersensitive to promoting STEM subjects and encouraging girls in particular. Am sure there's a well intentioned reason that it's being targeted at men but it's thoughtless, at best, and makes me worry about the other subtle signals the school might be sending girls about what they should be interested in or good at.

I would have made a point and signed up for the course but am not able to make it (mixture of mine and husband's work commitments and looking after the children).

Have sounded out some mum friends in a jokey way and no one else seems to feel the same as me. Why is this?

How do I respond? I'm thinking a brief note to the workshop organiser and the Head. Would love to be able to do it with style and humour!

Interested in your thoughts

PerspicaciaTick Thu 07-May-15 22:45:26

I think this is about encouraging men to engage with their children's education, rather than excluding girls from STEM subjects. Presumably dads of girls are welcome to attend and it isn't limited to dads of boys. I'm also assuming that children without available male carers will be able to bring a female carer instead.

EBearhug Thu 07-May-15 22:54:19

There was a similar thread about this some months ago.

I do understand they want to encourage men to engage with their children's education, but it does imply that only men do STEM careers, unless they also have tech skills workshops with mothers and female carers. We do need to encourage more girls into STEM careers - well, we need more people considering STEM careers full-stop, but on top of that, the male/female balance needs improving, which means we need to encourage girls in particular. But they pick up the idea that it's only men who do it early on, even when they're doing well in maths and so on.

Littlepaleale Thu 07-May-15 22:57:00

So I'm over reacting?

I get that they're trying to get dads involved and I have no doubt that women would be welcome to join if they asked but for some reason the way this was positioned has really got to me.

EBearhug Thu 07-May-15 22:59:52

I don't think you're over-reacting - I think that in pursuing one goal, they have ignored the other possible effects of what they're doing. I think you should ask them about what message it sends about about girls who might want to enter STEM careers.

Littlepaleale Thu 07-May-15 23:03:21

Cross post EBearhug. That's my just my point, it raises the idea to both boys and girls that technology is a male-only zone. I'll see if i can dig out that old thread you mention.

Littlepaleale Thu 07-May-15 23:05:28

Xpost again. Am on my phone with dodgy connection! Yes I that is just my point and you're making it more eloquently than me.

EBearhug Thu 07-May-15 23:11:23

I think it was this thread -

Littlepaleale Thu 07-May-15 23:51:12

Thanks EBear. Some lively debate on there. Interesting - the event in that thread was at the weekend. This one's in the evening, unlike any of the other parenting/reading/maths things that we've been invited to. The assumption that men are at work and need special arrangement.

Definitely chance to ask a few questions and get the school thinking about the unintended message they are sending about women/girls in technology.

cailindana Fri 08-May-15 09:04:59

There was something similar at our local school. It was a total washout, hardly anyone attended.

What fucks me off about the whole thing is the idea that in order to get men to take any interest in their children they have to be encouraged to participate in traditional "manly" pursuits, at a time that is convenient to them (ie after the time that they've done the real Man work during the day). It seems that all the time and effort that mothers put in to supporting their children at all the events that run during the day is just taken for granted - there is no special incentive, no attempt to make it more convenient.

NoRockandRollFun Fri 08-May-15 09:17:43

I don't think you're overreacting, it would certainly give me the rage. I would start off by asking a few questions, exactly what is the. what's the motivation behind this? will there be another, similar event for mums and female carers for etc... perhaps they have really communicated it very well, perhaps they are just a bunch sexist idiots.

UptoapointLordCopper Fri 08-May-15 09:33:29

Agree that you are not over-reacting. Only dads do technology. hmm hmm angry

Apart from anything else, if only dads do technology and you have to schedule special time for them because dads are all busy at work then who the fuck is going to do the technology thing at other times - do mums just sit around and twiddle their pretty little thumbs and wait for dads to come home to sort it?

WhirlpoolGalaxyM51 Fri 08-May-15 17:26:46

What on earth are they going to be covering at these "technology skills workshops"? confused

I don't think you're over-reacting at all BTW.

WhirlpoolGalaxyM51 Fri 08-May-15 17:27:42

A lot of primary schools seem to be stuck in the 1950s (ours does anyway). Very out of date assumptions about roles in the family and who will be available when to do what and so forth.

Littlepaleale Fri 08-May-15 17:29:41

Thanks, picking up your messages on my way home from work.... for a tech organisation! A few questions definitely in order...

tribpot Fri 08-May-15 17:35:23

It does seem very odd. I think a male-only workshop is a good idea to encourage more dads/grandads/male carers to participate in helping out at school, but why not reading? Or music? Or history? It does send entirely the wrong message to make it a STEM-based subject.

The timing is also odd, though - are kids meant to want to go back to their school in the evening? There's a reason why stuff happens straight after school. They could at least have canvassed to see how many dads would be able to make it if it was after school vs how many in the evening. Loads of dads as my school would be able to do it in the afternoon.

Jackieharris Fri 08-May-15 23:44:32

Make a complaint.

This is sexist bollocks and shouldn't be happening in our schools.

BeakyMinder Sat 09-May-15 00:39:42

Utterly bizarre. Push them hard to justify rationale.

StaceyAndTracey Sat 09-May-15 00:51:31

I'd not be happy . It sends an unhelpful message to children , that technology is for men only .

If they want to involve dads, what's wrong with reading skills ?

There are so many messages telling our daughters that STEM is not for them . I've a teenager in high school - she's only of 6 girls in her computing class of 50 !

She's in the top group for maths - she wants to an engineer . Her 3 best friends in that class ( the top group in one of the best state schools in the country ) want to be - a make up blogger ,a dancer and a childcare worker . Can you guess if they are boys or girls ?


Littlepaleale Sat 09-May-15 11:13:14

Good for your DD Stacey so disheartening to hear about the rest. That's exactly why I am going to make a fuss. Yesterday's newsletter had a reminder for the workshop helpfully explaining they'd scheduled it in the evening to be more convenient for dads. FFS! Am writing to the Head.

Katymac Sat 09-May-15 11:28:31

Whilst I agree that the workshop is ill thought out - children should be encouraged to participate in the career they wish too

It's OK to suggest more girls go into STEM subjects & I work in Early Years and support a lot of science and maths placed work at Nursery

But to assume that a child is misguided or stereotypical by picking a career that is 'gendered' by other people is a bit sad

My dd (not a STEM specialist by any means, and an average student academically over all) is planning on being a dancer - she is following in her fathers footsteps rather than mine

Encourage them to be scientists, engineers & mathematicians but celebrate their own choice whatever it is

Littlepaleale Sat 09-May-15 14:15:35

You're right katymac - wrong to make a judgement on individual choice so silly for me to comment on that.

The problem isn't at an individual level and disheartening thing is that aspirations are being influenced by so many different signals (subtle and otherwise), like the workshop that prompted me to start this thread.

Katymac Sat 09-May-15 14:26:16

You do have to object to the workshop and encourage more thoughtful and careful thinking in the future

I often feel like I am banging my head against a wall when my comments about science for all & no-one giggles when you say you are bad at English (like they do when you announce you are stupid at Maths) are greeted by yes buy your DD does Ballet hmm

The stupid at maths does my head in totally! Why is it acceptable for women to be 'useless' at a major life skill?

StellaAlpina Sat 09-May-15 16:04:00

Why can't they have a dads and male carers 'reading' or 'arts and crafts' getting involved day...I think it being STEM is the school being stereotypical. I'd write a letter politely querying it, and asking if they've thought about the ramifications (i.e. aren't schools meant to not stereotype children so why are they having an event which rienforces stereotypes?)

You know what really gets my feminist heckles up, baby and toddler things which mainly women attend, cut up fruit, breadsticks no hot drinks...'dad days' BACON SANDWICHES...What's wrong with men having to eat a bit of smushed banana and half a breadstick for once?

PerspicaciaTick Sat 09-May-15 16:14:38

There is some very useful information here about why men don't read with their children.
I absolutely agree that schools should be working to help dads feel confident about reading with their children. But it's probably quite a hard topic to initiate any plan for increasing dads/male carers involvement in schools. Maybe the school has a cunning plan - woo the men in with techy fun and gradually introduce reading in future sessions once they feel comfy in the school environment. Definitely worth asking the school what their future plans are and how they plan to follow up the tech session to continue increasing male engagement.

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