Sexist Textbooks

Textbooks play a critical role in schooling around the world. Small sample studies show that many books continue to under-represent women and girls, and to portray men and women in stereotypical gendered roles. In this paper, we use quantitative text analysis to assess the degree of gender bias in a newly assembled corpus of 1,255 English language school textbooks from 34 countries that are publicly available online. We find consistent patterns of under-representation of female characters and portrayal of stereotypical gendered roles. Women and girls occur less frequently, are portrayed as more passive, are less likely to be associated with work or achievement, and are more likely to be associated with the home and traditionally female occupations. Comparing across countries, female representation in books is correlated with higher GDP and more legal rights for women.

If you would like to access the original educational materials or replicate the process of converting the original PDF files to TXT files, download the folder available here. Please note that the folder is very large (27GB). The data and code are available here.

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