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Gender imbalance in primary school EFL textbooks used on China's Mainland

English Abstract

The Chinese government has consistently issued policies to ensure gender equality in teaching materials in the last decade. For example, in 2011, the State Council issued the National Program of Action for Woman Development in China which advocated “measuring gender representation in teaching materials and teaching process… and fully embodying gender equality in both materials and teaching methods.” In this context, one could reasonably assume that textbooks would become more and more balanced in gender representation in the past years. Given this assumption, two versions of primary school EFL textbooks used widely on China’s mainland, PEP series 2003 and 2013 were selected for comparison. The study found that, contrary to expectations, the newer version seemed to go backwards when considering reform efforts. Analyses in regard to visibility, depiction of family roles and occupational roles, and ability representations showed that overall messages tended to be even more biased in the more modern version than in the earlier version. Besides, the traditional and discriminatory gender ideology of nan zhu wai, nü zhu nei, males belonging to an outside space wai, the sphere of business and scholarly pursuits, while females belonging to an inside space nei , the sphere of domesticity and wifely servitude.” (Hiramoto and Teo, 2014) tended to be reinforced and naturalized in the more recent version, PEP (2013). Social changes and policy concerns seemingly had little influence on gender representations in the books examined.

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Liang, Meng


Faculty of Arts and Humanities


Department of English




Sexism in textbooks -- China

English language -- Study and teaching (Primary) -- China


Wilhelm, Kim Hughes

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