Gender representation in Hong Kong primary English language textbooks:a study of two widely-used textbook series

Yang, Chi Cheung Ruby (2014) Gender representation in Hong Kong primary English language textbooks:a study of two widely-used textbook series. PhD thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

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Gender equality has long been an issue for gender and language research from as early as the 1970s to the contemporary era in the 2010s, and gender stereotyping in textbooks is an issue in many different countries (Davis, 1995; see also Blumberg, 2007, 2008). While secondary English Language textbooks published in Hong Kong have already been investigated by Lee and Collins (2008), primary English Language textbooks have rarely been investigated (but see Au, 1992; Au, 2004). Therefore, the present study investigates gender representation in two widely-used primary English Language textbook series, Step Up and Primary Longman Express, by examining two subgenres that can be widely found in all language textbooks: reading passages and dialogues, and visuals. In other words, textual (lexis and grammar), discourse and visual representations of gender are analysed. A combination of different methods is used in this study. First, to answer the research question of how gender is represented in the reading passages in the Step Up and Primary Longman Express series in terms of lexis and grammar (Research Question A), content, linguistic and discourse analyses are conducted. Then, pragmatics and conversation analysis are used to analyse how the discourse of male and female speakers is represented in the dialogues in the two textbook series (Research Question B). Finally, to analyse the representation of gender in the visuals in the two textbook series (Research Question C), the method of visual analysis is used. To make sure that the quantitative results obtained are significant, the chi-square test is also used and log-likelihood values are calculated. The results of this study are encouraging in that males and females are represented similarly and fairly, and show an improvement over previous textbook studies in gender representation. In textual representation of gender, at the lexical level, though males were represented more often than females in terms of having a higher frequency of occurrence of node words, nomination, and pronouns when counted as ‘tokens’ in the two series, both males and females were portrayed as having jobs outside home and engaging in household chores (even if only playing a supportive role for males). At the formal grammatical level, the ‘generic’ use of masculine pronouns to refer to human beings in general could not be found in the two textbook series either. As regards gender representation in dialogues, the results vary between the two textbook series and across different dialogue subgenres. Male/female invisibility and domination in dialogues do not exist, and there are no instances of gender stereotyping in the analysed dialogues of the two series. Finally, in visual representation of gender, though males were represented more than females in the illustrations in the two textbook series, the phenomenon of gender stereotyping in terms of occupations and activities engaged in the illustrations in the selected books of either textbook series is not prominent.

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22 Jul 2014 08:57
Last Modified:
12 Sep 2023 00:14