The Montecastelo School of Spain is tackling gender inequality through a powerful initiative that teaches boys traditionally feminized tasks such as sewing and ironing.
When you were growing up, what were the responsibilities or chores that you were assigned within your home? Chances are, the answer will depend on your gender. While sons are expected to help fathers with their automobiles or complete more "rigorous" tasks, daughters are limited to chores within the household, such as cooking and cleaning. This means our idea of housekeeping or homemaking becomes feminized at a very young age, which can be problematic when considering what this teaches young minds about what they're allowed to do as adults. In an effort to battle these archaic gender roles and slowly erase workplace gender bias, a school in Spain has established a powerful initiative wherein they teach young boys household chores.
The Montecastelo School of Spain's slogan is "Equality is learned with actions." Therefore, faculty members within the school decided to challenge the notions of patriarchy and destigmatize "feminine" chores such as cooking through the introduction of home economics lessons. During these classes, boys learn tasks such as ironing, sewing, and cooking, in addition to other manual, traditionally masculine activities like masonry, carpentry, and plumbing and electrician skills.
The program was first launched in 2018 and is currently taught on a voluntary basis by teachers, representatives of the school campus, as well as some of the students' fathers. The coordinator of the school, Gabriel Bravo, explained in an interview that the initiative was put in motion as it seemed, quite obviously, useful to students as they matured into young adults. He stated, "It seemed very useful for our students to learn to perform these tasks so that, when they form a family, they are involved from the beginning and know that a house is a matter of two, it’s not a matter of the woman cleaning, doing the dishes, and ironing. This will allow them to become aware and learn to handle themselves at home."
The idea initially came about when officials from the school administration were brainstorming ways to teach their students about gender equality and promote its tenets within their classrooms. Once the idea was formalized, details about the course were relayed to parents and students. While the parents expressed excitement for the project, accepting the idea without hesitation, the students did have some qualms about the class, especially when they heard about "girly" tasks such as ironing and sewing.
However, the classroom of boys quickly grew accepting of the idea, enjoying their time in their home economics lessons. Bravo said, "For some, it was the first time they had held an iron, it was fun and instructive at the same time, we are quite surprised and the parents are very happy." The school posts frequent updates about their gender quality initiative on social media platform Facebook. In comments, many Facebook users have expressed their appreciation for the program. Claire Breton wrote: This will teach young boys everywhere not only about gender equality but also about how to become fully independent and not rely on his mom all the time.