NCERT books full of gender stereotypes, finds study

 Textbooks of the NCERT are riddled with gender stereotypes which cast women in limited roles as mothers and wives, a study conducted by non-profit Action Aid has found.

The books were analysed by Anais Leclare, an intern from France, with the objective to understand how women and girls were represented, the kind of messages conveyed through stories, and use of gender-sensitive language.

The study analysed Hindi, Mathematics, English and Environmental Studies textbooks of class II to V.

According to the author, the textbooks usually depict women in the domestic sphere whereas the public sphere is reserved for men.

Only a few stories in the textbooks are women-centered and when they are, women are often highlighted for certain qualities like kindness but not for strength or courage, the report says.

Skewed representation

Further, teachers are always shown as women. Roles like milkman, grocer, wrestler, farmer and magician are always played by men. Cooking is depicted as a woman’s activity, unless it is in a professional capacity, in which case it is done by a man.

Pictures in the textbooks show girls usually dressed in skirts and dresses, playing with dolls and boys are engaged in outdoor activities.

Gender-neutral language is not used and in the class IV English textbook, even a
shadow has been referred to as ‘he’.

Recommendations

Leclare has recommended that gender equality should be made a priority when the NCERT textbooks are re-examined and also suggested implementing a subject on gender studies from Class I.


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