What has shaped me?

Inclusive teaching for 14-16 IOP RESOURCES

Objective: To understand how each of us is influenced by gender conformity.


  • PowerPoint
  • IOP Challenging Stereotypes animation
  • flipchart
  • paper
  • assortment of coloured pens


Create or refer to your working agreement – set this out at the beginning to agree behaviour and language expectations (see Teacher Notes).


  1. Watch the IOP Challenging Stereotypes animation. Go back to the beginning and stop after 00:15; reiterate the statistic they have just heard: ‘In a society where by age 7, most children’s idea of what they’ll do is already influenced by their social background, ethnicity, and gender...’
  2. Ask students:
      Slide 3: What do you think about this statement? – Slide 4: What do you think might influence young children’s ideas about what jobs they can do?
  3. Discuss but keep it pacey, writing down any ideas on a flipchart.
  4. Go back to the animation again and play from 00:27 and stop at 00:50.
  5. Ask students:
    • Slide 6: What do you think?
    • Slide 7: Do you think you have been, or are affected by this? If so, how?
  6. Discuss, again keeping it pacey.


  1. Explain to students that you are going to do a reflective activity, looking for evidence in their lives of what might have shaped them.
  2. Outline that gender, and gender identity, are not the only things that will have shaped them: their background, ethnicity, environment, faith, culture, class, personal experiences etc. will all have had an impact on them, making them unique.
  3. Highlight that whilst today they’re going to make gender the focus, they’ll need to consider other aspects of who they are, as we can’t look at these things in isolation e.g. many black women and women of colour may have faced racism and sexism. Many men may have faced different experiences of notions of masculinity.
  4. Hand out the Student Worksheet and ask everyone to:
    • Complete the My identity activity
    • Create their own Personal timeline as they consider how their gender may have shaped them. They could write about and/or draw their experiences. Remind them they only have a certain amount of time to get this done.
  5. When developing their timelines students should break their lives into chunks and consider:
    • Before birth: Does anyone know if their parents found out what sex they were before they were born?
    • At birth: What’s the first question everyone asks? What toys were you given as presents? What types/styles of clothes did you wear?
    • Early childhood: What TV programmes did you watch? Did you have a favourite book? How were you talked to and treated compared to siblings/classmates etc. What sport(s) did you play, or clubs did you attend?
    • Now: What influences your thoughts at home, school, out and about etc.?
  6. Students complete the activity, adding their personal journeys and highlighting any specific events/memories that could have shaped them and their expectations of themselves in terms of their gender.


  1. Students look back over their work and notice where they could have been shaped in some way without realising it.
  2. Discuss as pairs and/or as a whole class (if they feel comfortable) what they have learnt from doing this. How do they feel about this?
  3. Remind students that if they feel uncomfortable about anything raised in this session they should talk to an adult they trust. (Parents/carers, other school staff or maybe ChildLine who are open 24/7 for everyone up to the age of 19 on chat, text or call.)

Extension ideas

  • Activity: What else has shaped me? Students consider different aspects that might have shaped them e.g. background, ethnicity, environment, faith, culture, class, personal experiences etc. and add/layer these to their timeline. Go through the working agreement again so everyone is respected and feels safe to explore this further without judgement.
  • Discussion/debate: Do you think you can take steps to counteract inequality? If so, how?
  • Discussion/debate: Where does bias occur? Use timelines to look for evidence of bias. Discuss the impact words and/or actions can have, even when there is no intent to cause harm or offence. (Go to ‘My Choices’, the ten-minute activity, to recap on what unconscious bias is.)
Limit Less Campaign

Support our manifesto for change

The IOP wants to support young people to fulfil their potential by doing physics. Please sign the manifesto today so that we can show our politicians there is widespread support for improving equity and inclusion across the education sector.

Sign today