5. Look for gender bias in movies and TV

Reflect on the last movie or TV show you watched. How many female characters with names were in it? Did they talk to each other? Was it about something other than a man? These questions form the Bechdel Test.

  • Watch this clip about the Bechdel Test. Watch a film. Then tell a friend or colleague why you think it did or did not pass the test!
  • Take a look at this article exploring how some of our favourite films represent women.
  • Read this article about other ways to measure gender bias (and other biases) in film.
  • Watch this video about how gender stereotypes in movies and TV affect children and young adults.

How does it help?

The Bechdel Test draws attention to gender bias and sexism in movies and TV. This includes:

  • showing few fully formed female characters
  • the harmful ways women are often shown.

Many films and TV programs stereotype, sexualise and objectify women. This reinforces gender roles, gender stereotypes and gender inequality. International research shows that gender inequality is the main driver of violence against women.

Keep going!

There are lots of ways you can continue to challenge gender bias in movies and TV:

  • Boycott films and TV programs that show gender bias and gender stereotypes.
  • Support films made by women and about women.
  • Read this report by Screen Australia to learn about gender bias in Australian film and TV. Read about the steps to improve it.


Please note that these clips/articles contain information regarding the topics of sexism, gender inequality and violence against women. If you find the information distressing, please click through for information and support on self care. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, please visit the our help section for further information and support.

6. Reflect on the effect of gender stereotypes on children and young adults

Gender stereotypes are generalisations about women and men. Gender stereotypes reflect and reinforce the ideas that women and girls, men and boys:

  • should act in certain ways
  • should look certain ways.
  • are better suited to particular roles in society.

Gender stereotypes shape and limit children from a very young age.

Check out two of the following items. Reflect on the effects of gender stereotypes on children, and what we can do to challenge them:

  • Watch this video to understand the effects on boys and young men.
  • Reflect on this video. It shows how adults can reinforce gender stereotypes to young children without necessarily meaning to.
  • Check out this video of primary school children doing a creative drawing activity. Reflect on how gender stereotypes can limit children’s ambitions, and the way they see the world and their place in it.

Gender stereotypes affect everyone, but they are particularly harmful for girls and women. We live in a society that values characteristics associated with men more than characteristics associated with women. Gender stereotypes support gender inequality by creating different statuses for boys and girls.

How does it help?

Gender stereotypes play a key role in producing gender inequality. Gender inequality is the most consistent predictor of violence against women (Our Watch, 2015).

Research shows that ‘levels of violence against women are significantly and consistently higher in societies, communities and relationships where there are more rigid distinctions between the roles of men and women’.

It also reveals that ‘men who hold traditional, hierarchical views about gender roles and relationships are more likely to perpetrate violence against women’ (Our Watch, 2015: 25).

According to Our Watch (2015), preventing violence against women requires:

  • encouraging positive personal identities
  • challenging gender stereotypes and roles.

Gender stereotyping affects the hopes and ambitions of children, and how they see themselves. Gender stereotypes can prevent children from:

  • exploring their interests
  • developing their talents
  • reaching their potential.

Keep going!

  • Avoid gender stereotyping when you are with children and young adults. This list provides some tips.
  • The Level Playground website provides caregivers and educators with information and resources to raise children free from gender stereotyping.
  • Check out the Play Unlimited campaign. Learn more about the effect of gender stereotyping on children, and the work that is being done to reduce gendered marketing to children.
  • Browse this guide for children’s picture books that promote gender equality and challenge gender stereotypes. The Free to be Me checklist helps you select books that do not reinforce gender stereotypes.

Learn more

  • Did you know that pink was once considered a masculine colour? Read this article to find out more.
  • In this video, Elizabeth Sweet discusses her research on the effects of gender stereotypical toys on boys and girls. Take some time to reflect on the possible consequences of this blue versus pink world of toys.

Please note that these clips/articles contain information regarding the topics of sexism, gender inequality and violence against women. If you find the information distressing, please click through for information and support on self care. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, please visit the our help section for further information and support.

7. Pay attention to women’s voices

Commit to paying attention when women speak during meetings and conversations. Encourage women to offer their ideas and opinions at meetings you attend.

  • Keep a ‘talked over tally’. During meetings or conversations, note the number of times you witness men interrupting or talking over women. This handy tool can help. At the end of the Challenge, share your tally and observations with friends, family or colleagues.
  • Take the approach of women staffers of the Obama administration to ‘amplify’ women’s voices whenever possible.
  • During conversations, be aware of the types of interruptions made by men (and women). Joanna Richards’ recent study of the Australian Senate found that women actually interrupted more times than men. But their interruptions were usually defending or positively supporting another female speaker, or a less powerful speaker. Almost 75 per cent of the male interrupters were trying to take power or take the floor.

How does it help?

Silencing, ignoring or minimising women’s voices is part of sexism and gender inequality. Men are socialised to be decision-makers and voices of authority. Women are socialised to be submissive listeners and collaborators.

Experts in preventing male violence against women propose that ‘listening to women … is an alternative to using power and control tactics to silence them. Listening is thus a path toward justice’.

Keep going!

Keep supporting and paying attention to women’s voices:

  • Consider your bookshelf or university reading list. Are women well represented? If not, ask for more women authors in course materials. Include more women’s voices in your own reading.
  • Acknowledge women’s contributions and ideas.
  • Suggest a ‘no interruptions policy’ in meetings at your workplace or during classes.
  • Call it out when women are interrupted in front of you.
  • Get ideas to support women’s participation in decision-making and leadership at work.

Please note that these clips/articles contain information regarding the topics of sexism, gender inequality and violence against women. If you find the information distressing, please click through for information and support on self care. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, please visit the our help section for further information and support.

8. Reflect on who does certain chores in your household and why

Think about how your household or family shares household duties such as cooking, repairs, cleaning, childcare, grocery shopping, laundry, or taking children for extracurricular activities or appointments.

  • Reflect on who does these duties and why. How was it decided?
  • How are the different tasks valued, rewarded and acknowledged in your house?
  • Watch this video about how Australian women and men divide household work and unpaid caring duties.
  • Take a look at You Should’ve Asked. This comic by French artist Emma shows the pressure placed on women who often carry the ‘mental load’ of managing the household.
  • Read this article by Rob Sturrock. He discusses how men and fathers can actively support equality in their home.
  • Read this short piece by John Hoxie who explains why he doesn’t ‘help’ his wife with household duties.

How does it help?

Rigid gender roles and stereotypes label household and caring responsibilities as ‘women’s work’. This work is unpaid and undervalued. In Australia, women still do the majority of unpaid work. This affects their participation in the workforce, economic security, free time, and health and wellbeing.

Keep going!

You can continue to support gender equity in how your family or household divides tasks. Make sure that:

  • you discuss with your household who does what unpaid work, why, and how it can be equitably shared
  • women aren’t unfairly carrying the ‘mental load’ of managing the household
  • all unpaid work is acknowledged, particularly caring and domestic work
  • organising and performing your weekly routine, children’s extracurricular activities and special events such as birthdays, is shared equitably
  • children’s tasks are distributed equitably
  • caring responsibilities are distributed equitably, including weekends and school holidays.

Please note that these clips/articles contain information regarding the topics of sexism, gender inequality and violence against women. If you find the information distressing, please click through for information and support on self care. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, please visit the our help section for further information and support.