Sexism widespread in school textbooks: UNESCO report

Children are exposed to gender biases prevalent in school textbooks, which is undermining girls' education, according to a new UNESCO report.

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Women are often portrayed in stereotypical roles in which they're depicted as accommodating and nurturing household workers, while politicians, scientists, engineers and law enforcement officials are overwhelmingly represented by males, the report states.

A Global Education Monitoring Report released on Tuesday, which also marks International Women's Day, says sexist attitudes are widespread in textbooks distributed to children in developing countries.

In social studies texts in China, all sciences and soldiers were depicted as male while all teachers and the majority of service workers were female, according to a 2008 report.

In India, more than half the illustrations in primary English, Hindi, mathematics, science and social studies textbooks depicted only males, while a mere six per cent showed just females. In the six mathematics books used in primary schools, not a single woman is depicted as an executive, an engineer, a shopkeeper or a merchant.

The report also notes that the problem persists in certain high-income countries, such as Australia.

Despite there being more females than males in the country, a 2009 study found that 57 per cent of the characters in textbooks were men and there were double the amount of men portrayed in law-and-order roles, and four times as many depicting characters engaged in politics and government.

UNESCO is inviting individuals to share examples of gender roles in textbooks, either positive or negative, as part of its #BetweenTheLines campaign.

.@GEMReport blog looks at #gender discrimination& inequality in #textbooks#BetweenTheLineshttps://t.co/0n2ncSmsVTpic.twitter.com/vLu33lLpr2

— UN Education Report (@GEMReport) March 8, 2016


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