Textbooks portray gender biased roles, reveals study

Research reviews images of masculinity as published in FDE books


Sehrish Wasif October 29, 2017
PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: A study has found that the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) textbooks perpetuate gender disparity in society by portraying misogynistic images which affect the minds of children from an early age.

The research titled ‘Expression of Masculinity in Textbooks’ was carried out by Shirakat, ­a non-governmental organisation which works for gender equality and social justice, under its project ‘Collaboration for Change: Transforming Lives and Minds for Equal Citizenship’. The project was funded by the European Union (EU) and Norwegian Church Aid (NCA).

‘Gender disparity, misogyny are not natural’

The report, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune, reviews and documents the images of masculinity as published in the textbooks of FDE, Islamabad.

Highlighting the significance of a balanced view of masculinities in the curriculum and the corresponding textbooks, the research focuses on how women have been portrayed in the stereotypical roles in the textbooks.

It pinpoints that the representation of muscularity in textbooks shapes the mind of children and help perpetuate gender stereotypes and inequalities from an early age.

“These textbooks are engaged in a gendered process of citizen creation, wherein masculinity is defined in relation to the nation. The hegemonic male ideal is being aggressive, militaristic, authoritative, and following a strict division of labor on gendered lines,” the report states.

Interestingly, according to the research, gender bias is quiet visible in the textbooks despite of the fact that 64% authors of these books at the federal level are women.

The study calls for making textbooks gender-sensitive so that from the very beginning, children can understand the concept of gender equality.

It further highlights that almost all pedagogical authors, editors, and designers who participated in the development of these books were men and there were hardly any women on those positions.

Regarding the pictorial images, the study says that almost 89% of pictures in the history books illustrated men while only 3.6% illustrated women.

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Similarly, men in the textbooks were shown in economical, productive, skilled professions while women were portrayed in limited professions which conveyed a negative message to the youth regarding the role of women in society.

Generally, according to the study, in most of the textbooks, men were depicted as brave, adventurous and hardworking.

In terms of personality traits, the study observes that generally men are depicted in more rational behavior and in a superior position than women.

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