A synchronic and diachronic analysis of gender representation in English textbooks used in Iranian high schools

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2019-1
Miri, Seyed Shahab
The recent vision statement for the year 2025 (The 20-Year Vision Plan) outlining the future direction of Iran in economy, science, and technology in the region and around the world in the next two decades brought a series of changes in the education system. Consequently, Iranian Ministry of Education took concrete steps in revamping its structure and instructional materials, including English Language Teaching textbooks. These textbooks have a critical role in the local education system, since, in a country like Iran where the Ministry of Education is the only and centralized source for the textbooks, they are used in the K-12 education system in all schools, public and private, nationwide. Furthermore, since textbooks are important tools that shape students' understanding of how the society functions outside of school, their role as sources of input becomes even more important in the local educational context where students study in a segregated school system where boys and girls attend different schools. Bringing all these strands together, it becomes imperative to examine gender representation in instructional materials (i.e. textbooks) developed by the Ministry of Education and used in local K-12 schools. Through the principles of Critical Discourse Analysis (Fairclough, 2001), the current study attempts to offer a synchronous analysis of the quantitative and qualitative representations of gender through different modalities (i.e. textual and visual) in the newly published English textbooks in Iran, English for Schools, and complements this with a diachronous analysis of how the newly published textbooks differ with older version, Listening Speaking Reading Writing, in terms of gender representation. Both quantitative and qualitative synchronous analysis of English for Schools series reveals that these textbooks that are currently used in Iranian K-12 schools are on the biased end of the spectrum. However, the diachronous analysis of the English for Schools textbooks and the proceeding series indicated that there has been slight, yet insignificant, progress in terms of how genders are presented in the new textbook series. As these textbooks are influencers on students’ understandings of their society, the developers should take these findings into consideration and modify their policies to bring the issue of gender representation in these textbooks to the foreground.

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Citation Formats
S. S. Miri, “A synchronic and diachronic analysis of gender representation in English textbooks used in Iranian high schools,” M.A. - Master of Arts, Middle East Technical University, 2019.