Sex Roles [sers] PP1245-sers-488666 June 4, 2004 5:9 Style ﬁle version June 3rd, 2002
Sex Roles, Vol. 51, Nos. 1/2, July 2004 (
Do Boys and Girls Act Differently in the Classroom?
A Content Analysis of Student Characters
in Educational Psychology Textbooks
Karen L. Yanowitz
and Kevin J. Weathers
Previous research on gender stereotyping in textbooks has focused primarily on pictures used
in texts. However, many textbooks also use scenarios, with ﬁctional characters, as pedagogical
devices. Student characters in educational psychology textbooks were analyzed for potential
gender stereotypes. Results revealed that male characters were depicted with negative mascu-
line traits, such as aggression, signiﬁcantly more often than were female characters. However,
no differences were found for positive masculine traits or for feminine traits. Male characters
were also portrayed as engaging in stereotypically masculine activities signiﬁcantly more often
than female characters, although no difference was found in science activity as a function of
gender. The ﬁndings are discussed in terms of possible inﬂuence on preservice teachers who
are the primary readers of educational psychology textbooks.
KEY WORDS: gender stereotypes; educational psychology; content analysis.
It is almost impossible to avoid exposure to
stereotyped portrayals of men and women, as pop-
ular media, such as books, television, and websites,
frequently depict men and women acting in a gender
stereotyped manner. For instance, content analyses
of magazines aimed at adolescent girls show women
primarily depicted as being concerned with appear-
ance, romance, and household activities (Schlenker,
Caron, & Halteman, 1998). Analyses of advertising
campaigns ﬁnd that men are typically shown deter-
mining the purchase of expensive items, such as cars,
whereas women are depicted as being in charge of
buying cosmetics (Klassen, Jasper, & Schwartz, 1993).
Even analyses of computer clip art reveal that men
are portrayed more often than women in active and
nonnurturing roles (Milburn, Carney, & Raimirez,
Portions of this research were presented at the annual meeting of
the American Psychological Society, Atlanta, GA, 2003.
Department of Psychology and Counseling, Arkansas State Uni-
versity, State University, Arkansas.
To whom correspondence should be addressed at Department of
Psychology and Counseling, Arkansas State University, State Uni-
versity, Arkansas, 72467; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
With the passage of Title IX of the Education
Amendment Act of 1972, gender discrimination be-
came illegal in schools. One consequence of this act
was a need to eliminate, or at least reduce, gender bias
in educational materials (Evans & Davies, 2000; Titus,
1993). Thus, many investigators began to conduct con-
tent analyses of textbooks and other educational me-
dia to examine them for instances of gender bias.
The majority of these analyses have focused on texts
designed for preschool and elementary school chil-
dren (e.g., Clark, Guilman, & Caucier, 2003; Crabb &
Bielawski, 1994; Evans & Davies, 2000; Gooden, 2001;
Witt, 1996). For instance, Gooden (2001) reviewed
children’s books that were designated as notable by
the American Library Association. Although some
progress had been made, Gooden still found clear
evidence of gender stereotypes in the way men and
women were depicted. Male characters, for instance,
were portrayed in a greater variety of roles and ca-
reers than were female characters. In addition, even
though male characters appeared to have more pos-
sible activities available to them, they were seldom
seen caring for children and never seen doing house-
hold chores. Evans and Davies (2000) also examined
2004 Plenum Publishing Corporation