Case study: Fitzroy Feminist Collective puts gender equality in the curriculum

High school students challenge gender norms and stereotypes in the classroom and beyond.

  • a safe space for students to discuss feminist issues
  • an opportunity to think about how to address inequality
  • a means of opening up communication in the school community about gender inequality

These are the guiding principles of the Fitzroy High School Feminist Collective (the Collective). The student-led initiative is dedicated to challenging gender norms and changing attitudes around gender equality.

The Collective evolved from a strong belief in the need for change. As young people they feel a responsibility to drive this change.

From informal group to elective class

Since it began in 2013, the collective has grown thanks to the enthusiasm of its young members.

It started as an informal lunchtime forum. It has transformed into a timetabled elective class for year 9 and 10 students. Enrolments grow every year from students of all genders.

The collective offers a safe space to share their experiences, discuss their ideas and develop solutions to the challenges they encounter.

The collective has empowered female students to be bold and to be vocal. It provides a platform for them to grow as individuals and leaders at school and in the wider community.

A successful campaign and teaching resource

The collective has been instrumental in stimulating frank conversations about gender inequality within the classroom.

It has also helped raise awareness across the school and the wider community. It created the #FHSFightback poster campaign. It also created the teaching resource, Fightback: Addressing Sexism in Australian Schools.

The teaching resource has been particularly successful. It is used at Fitzroy High and also Canberra, Stawell, Argentina, Brazil and Berlin.

An educational sociologist in Chile intends to translate the entire resource into Spanish.

'It [has] opened up a dialogue and a discussion about [gender] ideologies within our school, and a wider dialogue about what role ideology plays in education.'