Gender representations in the illustrations of the 6th Grade Language Textbook used in Greek Elementary School

Nikolaos Karintzaidis, Anastasia Christodoulou, Argyris Kyridis, Ifigeneia Vamvakidou


This study explores the way in which the two sexes are presented in education and particularly in the illustration of the language textbook used in the 6th Grade of Greek elementary school. In a society where gender equality is constitutionally enshrined and displayed as an educational policy objective, it attempts to examine if school textbook images respond to the demands of social reality, or perpetuate outdated gender stereotyped educational practices. The visual communication system that school textbooks use has the same rhetoric in of the conveyance of ideological and cultural messages as the linguistic system. Therefore, students receive plenty of information from both communication systems about the roles and stereotypes that are considered appropriate for each sex. In the past, several studies have analyzed the linguistic system, while this is the first attempt at an organized and systematic analysis of the visual system in language textbooks, and specifically the one in 6th Grade. Both content analysis, as a measurement technique, and semiotics, as a visual analysis method, were used as a research method. The analysis of data showed that (a) the presentation of the two sexes in the illustration of this language textbook is not objectively compared with social changes, (b) apart from the quantitative inequality that exists in the presentation of the two sexes, there also appears to be a big difference in qualities such as behavioral characteristics, occupations, and activities, and (c) there is a reduction in the representation of outdated gender stereotypes, which is not necessarily positive, as the diversity of roles they undertake in the modern social sphere is not emphasized.

Keywords: textbook, illustration, representation, gender roles, stereotypes, semiotics

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