Gender representation in contemporary Grade 10 Business Studies textbooks in South Africa
Maistry, Suriamurthee Moonsamy
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There is a distinct attempt on the part of the state to reposition the textbook as a key teaching and learning resource in South African schools. While the textbook industry has responded to the growing demand for better quality textbooks and attempted to embrace the tenets of the country’s Constitution, especially as it relates to the issue of gender discrimination, there remains a great deal of uncertainty as to the extent to which attempts at gender equality have moved beyond technical cleansing in South African school textbooks. This article reports on a qualitative study that engaged the tenets of Critical Discourse Analysis as the key analytical frame. The Huckin’s (1997) framework for Critical Discourse Analysis was used to analyse data from the selected textbooks. A purposive sample of two contemporary South African Business Studies textbooks was selected to investigate the phenomenon of gender representation. The findings of this study revealed that stereotypes of women and men are both implicitly and overtly reinforced in the selected textbooks. Women were shown more frequently in home settings than were men. Men were shown in a wider variety of occupational roles than were women. In both texts, more males were represented in leadership positions in government, economic and corporate institutions. Finally, the portrayal of firstness presented the male pronoun first in sentences and conversation as opposed to the female pronoun. The findings have implications for several stakeholders, as it reveals the subtext of Business Studies textbook content that appears normal and natural.