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Review of Changes and Gender Issues of School Uniforms

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Childhood objects relate something special with a person in later stages of life. A child plays with a toy and different toys are remembered by a person who has played with toys in childhood. Similarly, there are different objects in childhood which make an impact on life of a person in later life. However, the impact of these objects is dependent on socially constructed context which might be based on a race or a gender. This essay is also based on a childhood object and its relationship with a socially constructed context which is gender. School uniform is the selected childhood object for this essay which has been studied and examined in this essay in relation with gender. Usually, a child gets admission in the school at the age of five and this age reflects an important age in the childhood. Moreover, schools have made it mandatory for children to wear uniform and it is also noted that they are different based on gender. Therefore, this essay discusses the school uniform as the childhood object and the socially constructed context is gender, linked to the study of school uniforms. 

Childhood Object

School Uniform It is noted above that school uniform has been adopted by schools and it has been made compulsory for students who get admission in a school. Children get in touch with this object in their life and they are in contact with this object once they face social settings and an institutional environment. School uniforms have witnessed much change since 1980s, although there has been traditional school uniform even before the 1980s. However, nature and style of school uniforms have been changing over the period. Difference in the style of uniform is also important and the aspect of gender is also reflected in school uniforms. School uniforms are differentiated based on boys and girls because there are different uniforms for both genders. Therefore, this essay is going to study changes taken place in school uniforms and then, it is followed by socially constructed context for the object. In this essay, this socially constructed context is gender. Therefore, the essay is going to study the changes in school uniforms with respect to the changes based on gender. 

Change in School Uniform Over Time

In the 1980s, uniform policies by schools became much flexible and boys and girls have the freedom to choose flexible uniform code. However, there have been differences between school uniforms of girls and boys. Shirts and polo jumpers were common in the school uniform types in schools during the decade. Then, came the 1990s when school uniforms changed further. Polo jumpers were there but trousers started to be used in a grey or black color. Skirts were also popular in school during the decade. Moreover, it was observed in the period that shorts were compulsory in schools despite the fact that students sometimes were not keen to wear shorts. Unfortunately, it was also the custom that schools made it compulsory to wear shorts in the winter season. Then came a modern time in 2000s and during this period, uniform was monitored in schools closely and even the footwear and other accessories were given attention by the school administration. So far as the uniform was concerned, during this period polo jumpers and trousers were in for boys and girls while other schools also adopted other styles and colors of uniforms. Blazers were also adopted by some schools as it became the norm in modern day schools in 2000s. These are the changes in the school uniform through time since 1980s. It is also noted that change was constant and was towards more modern and flexible kind of school uniforms for students. There is gender perspective of school uniform as well because there is clear difference of uniforms between boys and girls during the periods mentioned above i.e. 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s (ROBERTS, 2018). 

Present Day School Uniform

Today, in the present day, the sch ool uniform has changed considerably as the majority of schools have adopted blazers in their school uniform policy and there are more modern styles in the uniforms of students. It is further considered to be important that pace of change in the school uniform has been mainly for girls as their designs and styles have changed very much. However, there are controversies in the school uniform polices because the aspect of gender has heavily prevailed over them. In one of the examples which happened at Poynton High School in Cheshire, boys were not allowed to wear shorts while the temperatures were around 90F. It was the month of July when the country was affected by heat waves but school uniform policies did not allow boys to wear shorts. In contrast, girls were allowed to wear skirts at school. This is present day news related with school uniform and its relationship with the gender of students. It shows clear contradiction between boys and girls over the school uniform types and it also highlights how boys and girls think of their uniforms. Boys took girls’ uniforms to criticize the school policy while apparently boys’ shorts and girls’ skirts are similar with each other. This is only one instance but it has attracted attention towards the socially constructed context of gender around this childhood object i.e. school uniform. This incident is only one but there is rising awareness and thought that boys and girls should be having similar uniforms and there should not be differences in terms of their uniforms (MIDDLETON, 2018). 

Gender and School Uniforms

There is difference between school uniforms for boys and girls and it has been accepted norm in the school uniform history. It has been noted above that socially constructed context of gender has been prevalent in the school uniform policy. One uniform for boys and other uniform for girls make a context in the society under which children perceive differences based on gender. It is the beginning of their life and they are a bit unaware about biological differences between the two genders as they notice biological differences when they are in the adolescent age. However, this apparent difference through school uniform makes direct influence on their thinking and perception that boys and girls are different. This is the context which remains in the minds of children from the childhood and they start perceiving and thinking of boys and girls differently. “Within the school setting, we know that the construction of individual and gendered identities affects subject choices and pupils achievement”( Eden 2017 page 81) This quote is telling you that their interests links to their gender for example at play time they always have some different areas linked to their gender so there will be boys toys, games, role play in police stations and so on, and similar things for girls, such as girls toys, games and role play in kitchen. Sometimes it could affect them because sometimes it could feel like pressure to have to follow their gender. Also, it can affect the options for pupils in high school for their GCSEs. 

The boys are perceived as doing well in the sciences so they will pick this as they might think it’s for boys. For girls they may pick technical subjects like cooking or sewing. One leading physicist blames toys for the gap between boys and girls in science. Ian Sample, (2015) says “We introduce social constructs by stereotyping what toys boys and girls receive from the earliest age. ‘Girls’ toys’ are typically liable to lead to passivity-combing the hair of Barbie, for instance-not building, imagining or being creative with Lego or meccano ‘. (Sample, 2015 : 2) That quote is telling you that the author blames those who make these toys different for boys and girls, so for example for girls always get dolls and similar. But boys get a variety of toys including electric, technology and more things to explore. This is just one more example showing how boys and girls are treated differently. However, it is important to note that school uniform is only one object and other objects have their role in developing socially constructed contexts (Heath, 2016). Girls have to wear specific dress which includes skirts or any other girl specific school dress. It was researched by Asia-Pacific Journal of Health, Sport, and Physical Education that girls’ specific uniform is a hurdle in the way of their physical activity. By the time they enter the high school, they are less likely to be physically active because their uniform is not fit for physical activities (Shad, 2017). In the result, recently, WA government has allowed girls to choose shorts or pants if they want to. Then there is growing acceptance for common uniform for boys and girls and there should not be difference between uniforms for both genders. When a girl wears shorts or pants in her early age then there is not much difference between both genders physically because both are children and they can wear common uniform. Student rights groups have started to raise voice for same school uniforms for boys and girls. There are many surveys which show that girls do not think themselves as equal to boys and they consider that they are treated differently as compared to boys (Wood, 2017). 

This perception of inequality among girls increases with an increase of their age. “Unless schools make conscious efforts to intervene, they inevitably perpetuate the assumption underlying this inequality” (Tutchell 1990 page 80) This quote is telling you that they need to stop treating them differently. They don’t have to follow their gender to do things and they should just let them go and do what they want to do for example in the classroom, they should have free play in mixed gender activities. Also, they should choose whatever uniform they want to wear; whatever they feel comfortable with. However, making one uniform for boys and girls has also raised concerns over its impact on inclusiveness and freedom of choice because boys because only one uniform for both genders would limit choices (Bergman, 2017). However, it is important to note that school uniforms have seen many changes since 1980s and now; it is going to be same for both genders. It implies that school uniform has an impact on both genders and it makes a socially constructed context as well. 

Conclusion

The paper concludes that school uniform has an impact on boys and girls very much and the world has noticed this impact of uniform on both genders. Among different childhood objects, school uniform has been selected and its change over the time has been noticed. It is noted that since 1980s, the uniform has been changed consistently and there has been different uniform for boys and girls. It means that these changes have been based on gender because gender determines which uniform has to be worn by students. This is why, recently, there is growing demand from different corners that there should be one uniform for both genders. However, it is also a concern that one common uniform for both genders might limit choices for girls. It is recommended taking consideration of school uniform in context of gender and there should be freedom for girls especially to choose boy-like uniform if they want to. However, school uniform and changes through time have affected socially constructed context of gender very much. 

References 

  1. Bergman, S. (2017) Why the latest ‘gender neutral’ school uniform policy isn’t actually liberal or progressive. [Accessed 31th October 2018] https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/gender-neutral-school-uniform-policy-children-sex-skirts-trousers-progressive-liberal-a7934201.html 
  2. Eden, C. ( 2017) Gender, Education and work: Inequalities and Intersectionality. 1st Edition., ,Milton Park: Oxon Heath, N. (2016) It’s 2016. Why are school uniforms gender-specific? [Accessed 24th Octber2018] https://www.sbs.com.au/topics/life/family/article/2016/04/22/its-2016-why-are-school-uniforms-gender-specific 
  3. MIDDLETON, J (2018). Boys wear skirts to school after being banned from wearing shorts despite 90F temperatures.[ Accessed 24th Octber2018] https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5958455/Boys-wear-skirts-school-banned-wearing-shorts-despite-90F-temperatures.html 
  4. ROBERTS, N (2018). https://www.edu-quip.co.uk/blog/how-times-have-changed-school-uniforms. [Accessed 31th October 2018] https://www.edu-quip.co.uk/blog/how-times-have-changed-school-uniforms 
  5. Sample l. (2015) ‘Toys aimed at girls ‘steering women away from science careers’’. 
  6. The Guardian Friday 4. September page 3 Shad, S. (2017) Girls should wear the pants. And the shorts. [Accessed 31th October 2018] https://www.heraldsun.com.au/rendezview/girls-should-wear-the-pants-and-the-shorts/news-story/d4767ce48ecdaf3b158ddb701b0cf549 
  7. Tutchell, E. (1990) Dolls and Dungarees: Gender issues in the primary school curriculum. 1ST Edition., Buckingham Wood, P. (2017) Remove gendered school uniforms, address inequality, urges child rights group. [Accessed 31th October 2018] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-11/ban-gendered-school-uniforms,-address-gender-inequality/9037508  

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Review of Changes and Gender Issues of School Uniforms. (2022, April 08). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 17, 2022, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/review-of-changes-and-gender-issues-of-school-uniforms/
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