Teachers’ Perceptions of Gender Discrimination on Elementary School Coursebooks

Dr. Canakkale Onsekiz Mart University, Faculty of Education, Department of Educational Sciences.


Problem Statement: Coursebooks have great impacts on students’ sexist attitudes in the years to come. Texts and pictures are carved into students’ minds and in this way students’ behaviour is shaped. The coursebooks can help to create a more egalitarian social structure and can serve to combat sexism; on the other hand, they can serve to uphold existing sexist patterns and reproduce new ones. In that sense, it can be said that contents in the coursebooks serve to maintain and reproduce sexist attitudes and patriarchy.

Purpose of Study: The purpose of this study is to determine whether the pictures in the primary school coursebooks are suitable for gender equality; moreover this study aims to show whether there is gender discrimination in the coursebooks and in the educational environment from the perception of the teachers.

Methods: This study is descriptive and data has been collected through content analysis and survey study. In the first section, all first five years of primary education coursebooks were examined in terms of the pictures, with their main and secondary characters, in terms of the company of all individuals, and in terms of the activities in which they are involved concerning gender. In the second section of the study, the survey was applied to the teachers of primary school in order to learn their perceptions on the gender equality of the educational environment.

Findings and Results: Pictures were found in the textbooks, which could cause extensive sexism. Boys are depicted alone and dealing with managerial jobs while girls are mostly portrayed with their mothers and dealing with the housework. It was found that both male and female teachers perceive sexism in the social structure. However, there are significant differences between the perceptions of male and female teachers.

Conclusions and Recommendations: In the primary schools the coursebooks were found to have gender inequality. Boys are mostly indicated alone in public places, with the outdoors and being away from home representing personality traits such as independence, autonomy, self-reliance, and courage. It was also determined that the young teachers are more sensitive to sexism. The Ministry of National Education should revise the coursebooks and correct the text and images.

Keywords: Gender discrimination, educational policy, educational inequality, textbooks, elementary schools