School Uniform and Sexism: What’s the Relationship?

The relation between school uniform and sexism makes visible a norm that through the imposition of the clothes reproduces sexist stereotypes. Just as gender stereotypes have been removed from textbooks or children’s literature: why not to change the discussion of unique school uniforms?

school uniform

Boys pants and girls skirt, a rule considered sexist because it restricts the freedom of girls to choose if they want to wear skirts or pants. The debate does not question the advantages of school uniforms, from saving parents’ time to dressing up children for school to avoid competition of the clothing brands, but rather using them as a vehicle for conveying gender connotations.

School Uniform and Sexism: Is the Skirt Sexist?

One of the reasons for asking for a uniform in private and arranged schools is that the skirt of the school uniform limits the girls’ movements when it comes to participating in certain activities, games or sports (at the risk of leaving their underwear). The skirt can also be uncomfortable in the cold months.

The defenders of the single or unisex uniform not only argue that the skirt for girls is sexist, but there are other complements of school uniforms that also mark differences in roles, from shoes to tie for them or bonds in the hair so that. The uniform would be part of what in pedagogy is known as a hidden gender curriculum, the sexist values that are transmitted on occasions without stopping to reflect too much on it. The same values that can convey the messages of the characters in the stories or television series or sexist toys.

Feminist associations stress that the skirt of the school uniform transmits to girls the message that their gender limits them, and it is also the responsibility of the school to educate in values. A Supreme Court ruling, issued in 2011, found that to impose on women the obligation to wear a skirt at work is discriminatory. Is it extended to the school environment?

Breaking the barriers and promoting gender equality involves adopting changes in norms that until recently, like school uniforms, seemed to be immovable. In fact, children’s clothing has become a tool to encourage debate, and the best example is found in brands that bet on unisex clothing, without gender distinctions in labels.