Going back to school? Don’t forget to ditch gender norms

Tomboy; Skateboard
Tomboy; Skateboard

Side view of girl wearing helmet while standing on skateboard in garage Getty Images

Much of the talk about going back to school focuses, understandably and necessarily, on safety and equity. But a new study from the University of Cambridge suggests we keep something else in mind as school resumes, in one form or another: gender norms. That is, we should avoid them, explode them and encourage kids to reject them.

Why? Because kids who defy gender stereotypes did better. Boys who resisted pressures to be traditionally masculine got better grades. Girls who were marked as tomboys by researchers did better in math, while those who were traditionally feminine risked falling behind.

This was no surprise to me. After two years researching and writing a book about tomboys, and the science, psychology, history and future of gender nonconformity, I have indeed learned how lucky a child is if

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