North Central College student Anthony Schullo speaks at TEDx on gender roles in children

Feb 27, 2015

North Central College student Anthony Schullo ’15 spoke at a TEDx event about the impact of how gender roles are communicated to children starting at an early age.

Schullo was one of six student speakers selected to make three-minute presentations Feb. 13 at the inaugural TEDxNorthCentralCollege event. Topics were inspired by the theme “Changing the World for Good.” The message of Schullo’s talk, titled “Pink and Blue: Communicating Gender to Children,” was that adults construct children’s reality through communication of gender roles.

“(I want you to) recall a time when you or someone you know told a young boy to stop crying … or encouraged a young girl to play with Barbies instead of a toy truck,” Schullo said. “From the beginning we set an either/or path for our children, a one or the other when it comes to clothes, toys or actions.”

Schullo, of Carol Stream, Ill., is double-majoring in history and an individualized major, gender and sexuality studies. He cited research by communications scholar James Carey, who says communication is a symbolic process whereby our realities are produced, maintained, repaired and transformed. 

“By communicating what we believe is appropriate language, clothes, attire (and) actions to our children, we’re giving a symbolic message as to what it means to be a man and a woman,” Schullo said. “Communicating macho manhood to young boys, communicating submissiveness to young girls (sends) strong signs to our young boys and young girls that says what it means to be a man and a woman.”

As a student at North Central, Schullo was accepted into the Undergraduate Fellows Program of Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, formerly known as the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA). He is enrolled in an integrated five-year bachelor’s/master’s program at North Central that enables him to work toward a master’s degree in Leadership Studies: Higher Education while simultaneously pursuing his undergraduate degree. He hopes to work at a college or university level in an academic or student affairs capacity. 

TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks. TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers topics ranging from science to business to global issues. Independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world.