First Advisor

Marjorie Terdal

Term of Graduation

Winter 1998

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages


Applied Linguistics




English language -- Study and teaching (Higher) -- Textbooks for foreign speakers, Sexism in textbooks, Content analysis (Communication)



Physical Description

1 online resource (vii, 83 pages)


This study is a partial replication of E.W. Hoomes' dissertation (1978). The purpose of this study is to investigate whether or not gender bias exists in current ESL reading materials and in cases where gender bias exists, whether it varies by learning levels. Eleven reading books which were used in ESL classes at Portland State University were selected from the textbook lists of Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall in 1997. Content analysis was employed to examine distribution of males and females in passages and illustrations.

Gender bias was found to be statistically significant in the following categories: the assignment of primary/secondary characters, the assignment of dominant/subservient roles, and the assignment of independent/dependent roles. However, the relatively weak Phi values in the assignment of primary/secondary characters and in the assignment of independent/dependent roles revealed that the gender bias was too small to be of concern. A significant amount of gender bias was observed in the assignment of dominant/subservient roles.

It was hypothesized that the materials for the beginning level would have more gender bias because textbooks simplify the information in order to facilitate the students' understanding. However, this pattern did not emerge. In fact, there were no consistently emerging patterns in gender bias among levels. However, including findings which were not statistically significant, level two materials evaluated for this study showed somewhat consistent gender bias favoring males over females. The occurrence of males was higher than in the other three levels. More male primary characters were presented and in more active, dominant, and independent roles. More males than females were also represented as adults.


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