Gender representations and gender bias in elt textbooks published in the Middle East : a case study of elt textbooks published in Turkey and Iran

Thesis Type: Postgraduate

Institution Of The Thesis: Middle East Technical University, Turkey

Approval Date: 2007

Thesis Language: English

Student: Olga S Skliar



In addition to general knowledge on the official curriculum subjects, including the English language, schools convey multiple cultural and ideological meanings, playing a significant role in the processes of socialization and cultural reproduction. The function of school textbooks as powerful agents of socialization is realized through the texts and visuals in the content. Locally issued ELT materials, written in English by local authors, comprise a combination of local and foreign social meanings. Positive social change may be initiated by constant revision of cultural and ideological implications in educational media and subsequent exclusion of integrated biased meanings and linguistic forms reinforcing social inequities. This research study deals with gender representations and gender discriminatory meanings in ELT textbooks. It focuses on the ways gender-related social inequalities are reflected in texts and illustrations in two ELT series published by the Turkish Ministry of National Education and the Iranian Ministry of Education. Critical discourse analysis was chosen for investigation of gender issues integrated in the content of the textbooks. The study examined representations of female and male characters at code level in the pronoun and noun systems, at sentence level in reading passages and dialogues, and in visuals. The study revealed imbalance in representations of woman and man, and gender-related stereotypes in all examined categories of both ELT series. In both Turkish and Iranian textbook sets, traditional female and male roles depicting women as mothers and housewives and men as breadwinners were emphasized more than modern ones sustaining gender egalitarianism in public and family spheres. In contrast to women, men took active parts in all essential social fields, and bigger numbers of males than females were involved in texts and illustrations. Authors’ gender did not have a big influence on the results obtained by the current research. It was suggested that gender-related ideologies and stereotypes are shared, supported, and unconsciously reproduced by both women and men in a society.