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Gender-biased Content in Science Education Resources

Pedro Russo  

The goal of this study is to find out the status of present educational resources on science, with regard to gender-biased language and visuals. The findings could be of use for the development of new gender-neutral educational resources in science and technology. To this end, educational science resources for primary school children from the websites of Scientix and OERcommons were studied to see to what extent they contain gender-biased content. Specifically, the texts of the resources were studied for gender-biased words and contexts, and the visual content was studied for inequality of the number of men and women represented, and the roles the characters played in the images and videos. An algorithm was used to analyze the texts; the visual content was studied manually. The text analysis showed that in 14.8% of all resources, gender-biased language was present. In total, 0.007% of all words was gender-biased. The visual analysis was split for 'professions' and 'activities', leading to two chi squared tests. Both tests showed a significant difference (p<0.001). Therefore, we can state that there is an association between the type of profession and the distribution of men and women in the professions. Moreover, there is also an association between the type of activity and the distribution of men and women in the activities. Our data implies that the direction of the associations are as follows: science-related jobs are occupied mainly by men, whereas teaching jobs are mainly occupied by women. The findings can pose as a useful tool in creating gender-neutral science resources, increasing girls' interest in science, with the ultimate goal of increasing the amount of women with a career in science.

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