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In Honor of International Women’s Day, Research Reveals Gender Bias in World’s Textbooks

In Honor of International Women’s Day, Research Reveals Gender Bias in World’s Textbooks

Published research from UNESCO in honor of International Women’s Day reveals that gender bias is prevalent in textbooks across the globe.

The researchers behind the study are Aaron Benavot, director of UNESCO's Global Education Monitoring Report, and Catherine Jere, a professor at the University of East Anglia in the U.K., who say that their work indicates women and girls are under-represented in the world’s textbooks.

"Case in point: Studies of textbooks used in Chinese preschool and elementary schools and cited in a 2008 report showed that the proportion of male characters rose from 48 percent in books for 4-year-olds to 61 percent in those for 6-year-olds. In social studies texts, the researchers said, all scientists and soldiers were depicted as male, while teachers and 75 percent of service personnel were female,” said U.S.News.

"Meanwhile, in India, more than half the illustrations in elementary English, Hindi, mathematics, science and social studies textbooks depicted only males, the researchers said. And in the late 2000s in Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Togo and Tunisia, both genders were generally shown in highly stereotyped roles.”

The article notes that the bias isn’t just limited to “poorer, non-Western countries.”

"In Australia, 57 percent of the characters in textbooks were men, according to a study published online in 2010,” the article said.

In an extreme case, textbooks in Iran feature 80 percent male characters in a series of lessons from its Ministry of Education.

The researchers urge for strong political leadership to help begin tackling the issue of gender bias, particularly in education.

Read the full story.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

3/9/2016

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