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French school system ‘encourages sexism’

A report by French education inspectors has highlighted a lack of egalité in French schools by claiming teachers are helping to entrench sexism. Inspectors have recommended staff undergo specialist training to help break down stereotypes.

French school system 'encourages sexism'
The French school system is encouraging sexism, a new report concludes. Photo: Rune Mathison

Sexism in France is being nurtured in the classrooms of the country’s schools, a new report by the General Inspectorate for Education has revealed.

Dealing with sexism and inequality in France has been a priority for the Socialist French government and in particular for the Minister for Women’s Rights, Najat Vallaud Belkacem.

The report, titled "Equality between girls and boys in schools and establishments" suggests the government needs to turn its attention to schools where it appears old habits are dying hard, French newspaper Le Figaro reports.

After visiting schools, inspectors noted that boys received preferential treatment from teachers “even though they believed they were being fair”.

They also noted that teachers were more likely to choose girls to look after the class if they were absent for a short moment, because they are traditional seen as being “responsible and ready to be of service”.

Teachers’ expectations of girls in the class were also lower which was seen in the type of questions they were asked and boys were seen as being more capable and therefor received more attention from the profs and were asked more questions, the report claimed.

“Boys were assessed more on their intellectual capability but girls were judged on their positive attitude", the inspectors said.

Their report also states the results of these subtle gender biases can be seen in pupils’ results and the direction they take in their studies with inspectors noting the continued decline of females opting for the sciences.

In order to reverse the trend in order to achieve the goal where children are “seen as pupils and not just boys and girls” inspectors recommend mandatory training for teachers on issues of equality.

They also recommend the establishment of “gender statistics based on the results, subject choices and absences,” Le Figaro claims.

“A change of outlook is needed in order to deconstruct and end gender stereotypes in early schooling,” inspectors concluded adding that this must be a priority for politicians.

Education Minister Vincent Peillon is already planning more training for teachers regarding the issue of gender and his colleague in the cabinet, the minister for women’s rights Vallaud Belkacem has also taken up the fight for egalité.

In September she will launch a project with 500 schools called the “ABCD of equality”, a series of workshops aimed at “stopping children from internalising inequalities between the sexes at an early age.”

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SEXISM

More than one million French women targeted by sexist comments

More than one million French women, or one woman in 20, are targets of sexist comments in public, according to a new report on sexism. *French language learner article.*

More than one million French women targeted by sexist comments
Photo: jovannig/Depositphotos
*This is a French language learner article. The words in bold are translated into French at the bottom of the article.
 
The report highlights the kind of discrimination women go through on a daily basis, revealing that 1.2 million women experiencing sexist insults in 2017. 
 
The first investigation into sexism in France was carried out by the High Council for Equality between Women and Men (HCE) and the results were made public on Thursday.
 
The report focuses on sexists comments made in public, something which is now punishable with a €750 fine since France's new law on sexual violence was introduced in August 2018, but according to the council “currently enjoys a high social tolerance”. 
 
In fact during 2017, there were just four convictions for sexist insults, something which has been put down to the fact that victims do not believe it is worth reporting to the police, with only 3 percent pursuing an official complaint.
 
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Women in Paris tell their stories of being groped, pestered and sexually harassedPhoto: Jean Francois Gornet/Flickr

It won't come as a surprise to many women living in a major French city that one of the main places the insults occur is on public transport, particularly the Paris Metro.

“It's often in the Metro,” Chloe, a 19-year-old student in Paris told Le Parisien. “The last time was three weeks ago: I got a comment that my trousers molded my buttocks. I did not answer so he called me a little slut.”
 
In 2016 a report revealed that half of women in France choose to wear trousers not skirts when they take public transport to avoid being the victims of sexual harassment.
 
And while official complaints to the police are rare, French women do discuss the kind of insults they frequently hear in public spaces on social media.
 
According to the report, the most frequently reported insults were 'slut' (27 percent), 'whore' (21 percent) and 'bitch' (16 percent), with the first two most commonly directed at women under 30.
 
While it isn't only women who are subjected to abuse in public, they represent 92 percent of the victims of gender-specific insults and 86 percent of these comments are made by men, the report claims.
 
“Women are insulted because they are women,” said the HCE. “Their sex is the marker of their difference and justifies the insult. On the other hand, insults against men are not based on the idea that being a man is intrinsically negative.”
 
The body pointed out that insults heard by men often reflect the opposite.
 
“A man will never be too manly and the insults that are addressed to him focus on the fact that he is not manly enough.”
 
French vocab to learn
 
Discrimination — une discrimination
Insult — une insulte
Sexism — le sexisme
Fine — une amende
Conviction — une conviction
Complaint — une plainte
Public Spaces —  un espace public
Social media — les réseaux sociaux
 
 
 
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