A corpus study of gender representation in Japanese EFL textbooks

Jackie F. K. Lee, Hong Kong, LLCE2016-261;      This study seeks to examine whether the Japanese government’s attempt in recent years to promote a “gender-equal” society is reflected in the construction of gender in Japanese EFL textbooks. The investigation includes an analysis of four popular series of EFL textbooks published in 2011 for local Japanese students. Corpus linguistic tools (e.g. concordancing, KWIC) were adopted to examine the ratio of male-to-female appearances, the extent of use of gender-neutral and gender-marked vocabulary, the common adjectives associated with the two genders, the address titles for reference to women, and the order of appearance of men and women in coordinated constructions. The findings revealed some evidence of gender equality, including common use of gender-neutral vocabulary (e.g., 'waitperson', 'salesclerk) and the neutral address title 'Ms' for women. Male-firstness, however, is still prevalent in the textbooks examined, which suggests the secondary status of women. Variations were found in different textbook series pertaining to gender representation in the domains of gender stereotyping and quantitative imbalance. Pedagogical implications will be discussed.

Key words: gender; Japan; sexism; textbooks