A Study of Gender Positioning and Occupational Roles in Selected Primary School English Language Textbooks

By Habibah Ismail, Bahiyah Dato’ Hj, Abdul Hamid, Mohd Subakir Mohd Yasin, Zarina Othman, Yuen Chee Keong and Azhar Jaludin.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Learning materials, especially textbooks have significant roles in instilling concepts especially to young learners. Previous researchers in textbook analysis have found that gender discrimination towards females are especially salient. However, there are also research work related to English Language textbooks that found a fair distribution for both females and males in the textbooks including a fair distribution of occupational roles for each gender. The portrayal of males and females in occupational roles as fair should bring about positive affects and motivate young learners while textbooks that show discrimination would bring about the contrary. This study seeks to determine whether gender portrayed through their occupation is depicted as fair or bias in four selected textbooks (imported) from the corpus of twenty nine English language textbooks used in Qatar. This is part of a larger corpus, from a study supported by international and Malaysian research grants. A quantitative and qualitative analysis of gender positioning was carried out using WordSmith Tool 5.0. and Critical Discourse Analysis respectively. While occupation related nouns are the focus, frequency of other related features like pronouns, salutations and kinship terms are also presented to relate findings from the occupational dimension to the visibility of males and females in the textbooks as a whole- any evidence of fairness or biasness is not a stand alone case in the occupational dimension but a trend that applies in other related dimension/s as well. The findings show that in the occupational dimension, bias is evident not only in terms of frequency of representations but also in terms of diversity of occupations related to males over females. The findings of this study will be relevant not only to learners, parents and educators, but also to textbook writers, editors, publishers, researchers and decision-makers interested in gender equality and equity issues.

Keywords: Gender Positioning, Corpus, Text Analysis, Critical Discourse Analysis, Textbooks

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 18, Issue 12, pp.163-194. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 12.822MB).

Habibah Ismail

Masters Student, Research Assistant, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia

Dr. Bahiyah Dato’ Hj, Abdul Hamid

Associate Professor, School of Language and Linguistics Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Malaysia

Bahiyah Abdul Hamid is an Associate Professor in the School of Language Studies and Linguistics, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. Her areas of research are in language and gender, image analysis, identity construction, discourse analysis and corpus analysis.

Dr. Mohd Subakir Mohd Yasin

Senior Lecturer, School of Language Studies and Linguistics, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia

A senior lecturer in linguistics specialising in linguistics theories and minority languages. Currently involved in language maintainance, identity and gender related researches.

Dr. Zarina Othman

Lecturer, Centre of General Studies, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia

I hold a degree in B.Ed (Hons) TESL from the University of Kent, United Kingdom and Masters in MESL (Masters in English as a Second Language) from University Malaya, Malaysia. I then pursued my PhD in Linguistics at Lancaster University, United Kingdom. My research interest focuses on Spoken discourse, Discourse Analysis, Discourse and gender, Academic discourse.

Dr. Yuen Chee Keong

Lecturer, School of Language Studies and Linguistics, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia

A lecturer in the School of Language Studies and Linguistics, UKM. He is an affiliate in the Centre of Gender Research, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, UKM. His research interests are varieties of English, gender studies and corpus building.

Azhar Jaludin

Lecturer, School of Language Studies and Linguistics, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia

A lecturer in the School of Language Studies and Linguistics specialising in psycholinguistics and corpus linguistics. Currently involved in identity and gender studies.

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