Verity Downing on the Gender Gap in the Early Years

In this interview, we discuss children’s understandings of gender, how these understandings may present themselves when children are unable to articulate them, and how practitioners can create environments and foster relationships that are sensitive and responsive.

Verity explains how the figures that show girls consistently outperforming boys in terms of Early Learning Goal achievement, the lack of reference to ‘gender’ within Development Matters, pedagogies and representation, and she shares tips and resources for Early Years practice.
· July 15, 2022

Verity Downing is an Early Years Practitioner and Doctoral Researcher. She has worked in various roles throughout the last ten years in everywhere from baby rooms to Key Stage 1 classrooms, while working on distance learning courses to obtain vocational and undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.

Her Masters research ‘A case study exploring the pertinence of gender within children’s formative educational experiences’ started Verity on the journey to understand more about what children know about gender and how these understandings influence them, especially in their social development.

Verity is particularly interested in this in relation to their play. She is currently working on her EdD project titled; ‘Who do you want to be in our game?’: Understanding how gender plays out in the Early Years’, which will culminate in a period of active research in which she will be observing and interviewing children to really understand their experiences and outlooks, so that practitioners and policy makers can respond.

The other areas of EY practice that Verity is especially interested in are children’s experiences with food and nutrition, English as an Additional Language, and sensory/messy play

After listening to this session, practitioners and educators will feel empowered to recognise stereotyping, address it, and support children to learn and experience their full potential.


Verity is a member of the content editorial board for the Early Childhood Hub, a part of The Chartered College of Teaching:

The Early Childhood Hub will play an essential role in strengthening the expertise of early years practitioners.

The Chartered College of Teaching is committed to raising the status of teaching and working with individuals and groups across the Early Years sector to recognise their professionalism and dedication to children and young people.

The resources and research on our new Early Childhood Hub complement the insights across the Early Years sector and focus on the pedagogy and practice of early childhood education.

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Verity peer-reviews for the journal of The Chartered College of Teaching, Impact, details of which can be found here:

She has written and co-written the following articles for Impact:

And her work has been referenced here:

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