Latest News on Gender Representation : July – 2020

Gender representation in English language textbooks used in the Singapore primary schools

Two basal reader series used in the Singapore primary schools were analysed for discrepancies in the treatment of male and female characters. Imbalances were found in the female: male ratio, in the amount of speech given to characters, and in role‐representation. In both series, the importance of male characters becomes greater as the level of reader rises.

The implications of this discrepancy are of some concern for Singapore’s education system, where textbooks have long been seen as a major means of socialisation. [1]

Gender Representation in Notable Children’s Picture Books: 1995–1999

Although females comprise 51% of the population, they are represented in less than that amount in children’s literature. Psychologists and leaders of liberation groups affirm that gender stereotyping in children’s books has detrimental effects on children’s perception of women’s roles. Therefore, illustrated children’s books that view women positively can be used to eliminate these stereotypes. Eighty-three Notable Books for Children from 1995 to 1999 were analyzed for gender of main character, illustrations, and title. This research updated LaDow’s content analysis method and revealed that contrary to earlier studies, steps toward equity have advanced based on the increase in females represented as the main character (S. LaDow, 1979). Although female representation has greatly improved since the 70s, gender stereotypes are still prevalent in children’s literature. [2]

Gender Representation in Television Commercials: Updating an Update

We replicated the studies of O’Donnell and O’Donnell (1978) and Lovdal (1989) to analyze trends in gender representation in television commercials. A total of 757 commercials in Spring 1998 were recorded and analyzed for type of product, gender of the product representative, and gender of the voice-over. Similar to previous studies, findings indicated that men were underrepresented in commercials of domestic products, and women were underrepresented in commercials of nondomestic products. In fact, this form of gender bias was higher compared to Lovdal’s data. Findings also revealed a decrease in the percentage of male voice-overs from about 90% to 71%. [3]

A Survey of Gender Representation in Social Studies Textbooks of Ethiopian Primary Schools

This study was an attempt to investigate and analyze gender representation in second cycle (grade 5-8) primary schools Social Studies textbooks. For this purpose, four Social Studies textbooks which are in use in grades 5, 6, 7, and 8 were investigated thoroughly. The content analysis method was employed. The results revealed that there is no fair representation of females and males in some gender related characteristics. The supremacy of males over females was observed in terms of names (X2 = 122.64, df = 1, p< 0.05) and pronouns (X2 = 46.76, df = 1, p<0.05) and it was suggested that reconsideration Should be made in revising and/or producing new textbooks, if necessary, in the future. [4]


[1] Gupta, A.F. and Yin, A.L.S., 1990. Gender representation in English language textbooks used in the Singapore primary schools. Language and education, 4(1), pp.29-50.

[2] Gooden, A.M. and Gooden, M.A., 2001. Gender representation in notable children’s picture books: 1995–1999. Sex roles, 45(1-2), pp.89-101.

[3] Bartsch, R.A., Burnett, T., Diller, T.R. and Rankin-Williams, E., 2000. Gender representation in television commercials: Updating an update. Sex roles, 43(9-10), pp.735-743.

[4] Dejene, W. (2017) “A Survey of Gender Representation in Social Studies Textbooks of Ethiopian Primary Schools”, Journal of Education, Society and Behavioural Science, 21(1), pp. 1-7. doi: 10.9734/BJESBS/2017/32754.

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