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Improving gender balance 3-18

Last updated:
21 November 2017

What is this?

​Links to research and resources to help practitioners identify and tackle issues of gender stereotyping in their classrooms and schools. 

The Institute of Physics, in partnership with Skills Development Scotland and Education Scotland, embarked on a three-year pilot project to look at the effects of gender on subject uptake and career choice, particularly in relation to sciences, technologies, engineering and maths (STEM). Gender stereotyping is everywhere in our culture, but schools can make a real difference both by becoming more aware of potential issues themselves, and by helping young people become more aware.

Who is this for?

​All staff with an interest in ensuring that young people’s opportunities are not unduly influenced or limited by their gender.

How to use this learning and assessment resource to improve practice

Research shows that the best way to combat the negative effects of gender stereotyping on young people is through an embedded and sustained approach to raising gender bias awareness. Some of the activities here are to engage and challenge young people. Some are to support practitioners in reflecting on and monitoring their own practice. 

These resources provide a starting point for embedding equalities in every aspect of a young person’s journey through education, and could be used to tie in with other equity policies and programmes such as Rights Respecting Schools.

Improvement questions:

  • How could these ideas be implemented on a whole school / whole cluster basis?
  • Are there practices or guidelines addressing gender stereotyping and bias already in place in your school/ELC setting? Are these relevant and up to date? Are staff aware of them?
  • Which stakeholders need to be involved in this programme in order to ensure maximum impact?



Education Scotland's report on the research into gender in STEM subject uptake:

PDF file: Looking at gender balance in STEM subjects in school (4.4 MB)

PDF file: Looking at gender balance in STEM subjects in school - List of references (294 KB)

The Institute of Physics' guide to countering gender stereotyping across secondary schools:

PDF file: Opening doors - A guide to good practice in countering gender stereotyping in schools (402 KB)

A summary of the outcomes of the improving gender balance (IGB) projects run in England:

Improving Gender Balance - Results and recommendations from the IOP's work in schools (523 KB)

Resources for use with pupils

Introductory lessons on gender stereotyping and its effects, with activities and worksheets for S1-S5/6.

Zip file: S1 - Introduction to gender stereotypes (348 KB)

Zip file: S2 - Gender stereotypes and me (620 KB)

Zip file: S3 - Unconscious bias (820 KB)

Zip file: S4 - Gender stereotypes and the media (2.47 MB)

Zip file: S5 - Stereotype threat (497 KB)

Resources for practitioners

Action guides for those wishing to tackle gender balance in their school or early years setting.

PDF file: Introduction action guide (699 KB)

PDF file: ELCC action guide (475 KB)

PDF file: Primary action guide (326 KB)

PDF file: Secondary action guide (320 KB)

Poster with tips for ensuring inclusivity in teaching. The advice is broad and appropriate for all levels and all subjects, even though branded as ‘Science’.

PDF file: Inclusive science teaching - 10 tips for teachers (34 KB)

A set of questions designed to help teachers to record and extend their gender-inclusive practice in the classroom. 

PDF file: Inclusive learning checklist (508 KB)

A framework for monitoring interactions with male and female students in the classroom.

PDF file: Classroom interactions - self-evaluation template (504 KB)

Images for free use by schools

Photo sets for practitioners wishing to illustrate or counter stereotypes at different levels.

PowerPoint presentation: ELCC stereotypes - 33 images (5.3 MB)

PowerPoint presentation: Primary stereotypes - 36 images (3.7 MB)

PowerPoint presentation: Secondary stereotypes - 40 images (3.7 MB)

Photo set for illustrating STEM activity from early years to secondary.

PowerPoint presentation: STEM - all ages (2.9 MB)

Note on copyright

These Institute of Physics materials are made available with the kind permission of the Institute of Physics (© Institute of Physics 2017). Re-use of these materials is subject to IOP’s copyright policy, which can be accessed here:


Inclusion and Equality; Science Technology Engineering Mathematics; Sciences; Technologies; Engineering; Mathematics

​Related links

Institute of Physics Whole School Equality newsletter

A monthly newsletter with inspiration, ideas and resources to help you investigate and tackle gender inequality in your school.