Attribute Exercise

This method is a way of approaching knowledge and understanding how gender is created and what consequences it has.


Describe how a brain storming session works – that it is a matter of being impulsive and that everything is written down. Then ask the group: what should men be like in society? Emphasize that it’s not about the participants’ views, but about how society in general views this – what general social expectations exist for men and their behavior? You can also help the group by saying that they should bring up what they think a hundred randomly chosen people in the street would say.

Ask the participants to brainstorm, write down everything that is said. Then ask them: are there different expectations for different men? Are the expectations applied to, for example, Swedish-born men as to dark-skinned, foreign-born men? Then do the same with the question: what should women be like in society? Are there different expectations for different women?

When both lists are complete, a tip can be to move on to beehives. The participants are divided by where they are sitting into groups of three and asked to reflect on what they think of when they see the words. Then each group may say a few words about their reflections. Use the issues raised to go more in-depth/provide more information about gender, and reflect together on, for example, the following questions,

  • Is there anyone who entirely lives up to these expectations?
  • How can the words mentioned be related to power?
  • What are the consequences of these expectations?
  • What happens to those who go against the norms of, for example, gender? What norms are allowed or not allowed to be broken, and by whom?
  • What “spheres” should men and women exist in according to these lists?
  • Are there expectations of different men and different women to exist in different “spheres”?
  • How can the issues raised in the brain storming session be connected to the gender policy objectives?

Here is a chance to go further by connecting the lists and reflections to the participants’ organisation through the question: how are these preconceptions about gender manifested in our organisation?

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