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Some steps we can all take...

Gendered social norms shape all of our lives, and it is difficult to live outside of their influence. All of us may contribute to some degree towards their reproduction in different ways. This also means that there are things that all of us – not just practitioners, but society more broadly – can do to challenge and change dominant gendered social norms, and shift them in more healthy and egalitarian directions. The following are some suggestions for ways in which we can start trying to do this.


  • Self-reflect on how our own attitudes, values and behaviours may be shaped by constraining, oppressive or harmful norms about gender, such as the expectations we place on intimate partners within relationships.
  • Consider the messages we are giving to children and young people about what it means to be a man (and about gender more broadly) and how they might be contributing towards limiting their expectations, ambitions or opportunities. For example: avoid treating boys and girls differently in the types behaviour you praise or discourage.
  • Question unequal or stereotypically gendered divisions of labour within our family and work environments. For example: think about who takes responsibility for getting gifts for family members or colleagues.
  • Encourage men and boys in our lives to become more actively involved in care work with children and others. For example: taking responsibility for day-to-day childcare tasks such as taking children to medical appointments.

Peer groups

  • Challenge the enforcement of gender norms among friends and within our peer groups. For example: if you hear comments suggesting that certain behaviours are not ‘manly’ enough, actively question them.
  • Take the emotions, vulnerabilities and difficulties experienced by men and boys seriously and provide support where possible. For example: check in on how friends are doing if they seem to be struggling.
  • Speak out about violence against women and girls and challenge the gender norms and inequalities which underpin it. For example: call out harmful and sexist ways in which women may be talked about among male friends or colleagues.

Work and community

  • Act to make our workplaces inclusive and equitable environments in which gender segregation and stereotypes are challenged wherever possible. For example: encourage your employer to do more to tackle the gender pay gap and to help male employees take up caring responsibilities.
  • Get involved in community groups and activities and encourage male peers to do the same thing to try and reduce loneliness and social isolation among men. For example: make an effort to reach out to people in your community who you feel might be isolated.
  • Support an organisation working with women and girls. For example: organise or take part in fundraising activities.

Social change

  • Think critically about how different media sources may construct and reinforce certain restrictive ideas about gender. For example: support and consume more media content made by and about women and girls and LGBT people.
  • Support businesses which take positive action to challenge gender stereotypes and inequalities. For example: promote them on social media.
  • Get involved in local and/or national initiatives and activities to counteract the impacts of harmful gender norms and build gender equality. For example: start a campaign or discussion group to raise awareness about gender norms in your own community, organisation or workplace.
  • Campaign for legislative change for to explicitly address and shift gendered social norms through policies. For example, put pressure on policymakers such as your local council or MP to do more to tackle specific examples of gender inequality and harmful gender stereotypes.