A BLOG BY

ADHY NUGROHO

Are Our Textbooks Sexist?

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In the previous post, I had discussed about gender neutral pronoun. Today I will discuss about the picture of the textbooks. In the last discussion, I quoted a question from my lecturer "Why doctor usually be illustrated by a man, and cooking activity usually woman?" When my lecturer talked about the possibility to do research about sexism in our textbooks, I found that it is an interesting thing to do. Until I found a paper titled Representation of Gender in English Textbooks in Indonesia. This paper was written by Fadhila Yonata and Yan Mujiyanto, from Semarang State University. My first impression in my head was "Our society must be so patriarchy", but is it true?

This paper started from the belief that it is an urgency to talk about gender equality in education. As the writers consider that it is an international issue, they build the introduction from the roots; Lakoff (1973) that revealed the women condition which is lower than man became a starter to some authorities to reframe education process. Then, UNESCO held convention producing a term Education For All. Until today, it becomes something necessary to be given an attention.

The most important thing here is that the textbooks have power and opportunity to bring values and norm that believed as a correctness. This paper also gives an information about a possibility the learner, consciously or not, build such kind of interaction and make input from it.

From two books as sample, Bahasa Inggris and Aim High, they found that males are dominating females in the exercises and images part. The books produce the male character as privileged in education, social, and outdoor activities. For example, in Education activity, Bahasa Inggris has 15 males playing the role and 9 females. In Science and Engineering, there are 5 males playing the role and 0 females. On the other hand, Aim High equal in Education activity, and 2 males-3 females in Engineering.

This paper provides a lot of discussions and the evidence about stereotyping among gender. Ultimately, my first thought nearly right, we are still in this patriarchy space. That gender determines (in expression stage) education, social status, or activities is still perpetuated. Finally, it suggests the stakeholders to provide the suitable main source of English textbooks, and the teacher's management in the classroom to equalize gender roles through selecting appropriate materials.
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