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Students Becoming Activists For Gender Equality Education

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- This month is "National Women's History Month," and KDKA is celebrating by highlighting the contributions women have made to our communities and the difference they're making.

Tuesday is International Women's Day and we're focusing on the teaching of gender equality.

We've all probably heard it before, "Wow, you throw like a girl," or "That was really great, for a girl."

Comments like these may seem innocent in nature, and for some, that may be the case, but for others it could be more personal.

"It's so interesting sometimes how these comments can really manifest themselves in the workplace and in schools," Dr. Dorene Ciletti, Associate Professor of Marketing and Sales at Point Park University, said.

Dr. Ciletti says the subject of gender equality goes well beyond just male and female.

"I think of it under the larger umbrella as inclusion and that we all want to be valued and welcomed," she said.

Many could argue in today's society, we are seeing inclusivity. From the changes in work environments to sports, but as for schools, we're still lagging behind.

"Sexualization of girls in schools is, I think the evidence suggests, we're getting worse, and schools are not responding appropriately," Dr. Britney Brinkman, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Point Park University, said.

As for school districts in the Pittsburgh area and surrounding areas, Dr. Brinkman says we're not seeing much change.

"I do think that in Western Pennsylvania, it is not standard, it's not included in most schools to be thinking about gender equality explicitly, and I think that's unfortunate," she said.

Dr. Brinkman wrote a book about gender equality and found through her research and interviews that students are becoming activists.

In a lot of ways, she says they're the teacher. Educating their families and even teachers at school.

"Young people have greater access to information about gender equality and greater investment themselves in gender equality. So, they interact with educators and put pressure on schools," said Dr. Brinkman.

Both say education on gender needs to begin when kids are young — like in pre-school or even earlier. They believe programs should be implemented in districts. The hope is to eventually eliminate gender bias all together.

"So, the way you teach gender equality with preschoolers is going to look different than the way that you do with high school students and really all levels including college," Dr. Brinkman said.

"We continue that even at the university level with programs around inclusion and programming that addresses gender bias," Dr. Ciletti said.

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