Category Archives: Blog

School Uniforms: Reinforcing Harmful Gender Stereotypes

While we all have opinions about school uniforms, and the impact they may have on girls, it is fascinating to read scholarly research in the area.  Recently, I read a PhD thesis completed in 2015 by Dr Sue (Susan) Bennett of Deakin University called Gender Relations in Elite Coeducational Schools. This research involved three elite coeducational schools in Melbourne, Australia.  It included interviews and informal conversations with staff and students; and observations in classrooms and during lunchtime and extra-curricular activities. Dr Bennett’s

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Girls Wearing Shorts to School: Taking Action on an Age-old Problem

We often hear schools say no-one has ever raised the issue of girls wearing shorts or pants.  Often we hear from parents who are pleased to hear about Girls Uniform Agenda; they had thought they were the only person who felt uniform choice was important.  After all, the P&C, and the Principal, had said that nobody had ever asked if girls could wear shorts or pants. We know this can’t be true.  This argument is

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Power In The Collective: Girls Speaking Up

Last year I wrote a piece about boys in the UK controversially wearing skirts to school in defiance of a strict dress code. It was hot and they were told they could not wear shorts, only long pants. So, collectively, they took a stand and all wore skirts to school. They made international news. Lone Uniform Warriors Back then, I commented that rarely do we see girls standing together in solidarity in the same way. Particularly in the school

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American girls wear shorts and pants at school. How much longer for Australian school girls?

“Who is old enough to remember…when girls could not wear pants to school?” The question on this Facebook post frustrated me; we know that anyone alive today in Australia is old enough to remember this, it still happens. After digging a little deeper, I realised the post had originated in America, and the majority of the comments underneath were from Americans. While America still has a small number of schools that do enforce uniform, most American schools do not.

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Why Boy-Cut Uniform Doesn’t Cut it for Girls

Schools are increasingly responding to calls to give girls the choice of wearing shorts and pants, or to provide gender neutral uniforms.  Some schools do this by simply taking away the labels of ‘girls’ and ‘boys’ from existing uniforms and ‘ta-da!’ – gender neutral uniform.  This often means these schools are actually offering the former ‘boys’ uniform – boys’ shorts and pants – to all students. Taking away labels isn’t the answer This doesn’t work

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Prizewinning: Judge Us On Ability, Not On Dress

Your daughter’s about to go on stage for her public school’s awards’ ceremony, everyone should be excited.  Except they’re not, a daughter in tears, an exasperated mother and a principal bursting with anger.  This story shows that even when schools offer uniform choice, the shaming, guilt and pressure  on girls to conform to gender expectations is ever-present.  And girls’ appearance can still outweigh ability. When schools offer choice – it needs to be authentic and

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Who wears the pants? Whoever wants to!

Story from a Young Uniform Activist Fight for what you believe in, because change is necessary. Young activist Fifteen-year-old, Jess Insall, from Glasgow, Scotland, shows just how simple uniform change can be:  “Instead of saying ‘girls wear this, boys wear that’ schools can simply say ‘pupils may wear either this, or that’.” Jess shares her story below to inspire other young uniform activists to speak out and stand up for their right to wear pants (trousers):

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The Dress Trap – Equality and the School Dress

We’re a long way from achieving gender equality however you look at it.  When we ask young girls what they think, they say they feel judged on their appearance and don’t feel equal to boys, not even at school. “More than half of Australian girls report that they are most often valued for their looks, not their brains and ability.” Schools give these reasons for dress and skirt only uniforms: “It’s tradition, it’s always been

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