Sex role stereotyping in elementary school readers, grades 1-6, adopted by the state of Indiana for the years 1973-78

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Land, James L., 1942-
McElhinney, James H.
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Thesis (D. Ed.)
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The purpose of this study was to determine if sex role stereotyping occurs in elementary school readers, and, if it does, to what extent. To achieve this purpose, the study examined and classified the roles, relationships, activities, attitudes, treatments, generalizations, future directions for life and work, and the relative importance assigned to male and female characters in elementary school readers. Data were generated from the application of a 48 item classification instrument which was developed by the researcher.The sampling for the study consisted of 280 stories in 56 elementary school readers, grades 1-6. Those stories were contained in the textbook series of the 7 publishing firms adopted by the state of Indiana for use during the 1973-78 school years.Data collected from the stories were viewed collectively for all series of elementary school readers. Findings and conclusions were based upon the total data compiled during the investigation of the problem.The data strongly indicated that sex role stereotyping consistently occurs in elementary school readers. Those data are presented in the following table:TABLE OF FINDINGSReported below are data collected from the 280 stories examined in 56 elementary school readers which present numerical comparisons between male and female roles.ItemNumber of timespresentedMaleFemaleMajor character21862In illustration (foreground)24581In front cover illustration12531Sex of names in story titles7117Biographies263In the business world (labor force)18943Active character29185Passive character36165Positive character statement25540Negative character statement3561Physical tasks accomplished24454Mental tasks accomplished18533One sex portrayed alone in groups16129Recreational activity107/111Working in the kitchen344Other domestic work1143Making an important decision21635Acquisition of skill or knowledge16324In a ridiculous or degrading situation2292Subservient to other sex074Dependent upon other sex280Based upon the findings of the study, it was concluded that females in elementary school readers were (1) less frequently represented than males in terms of numbers; (2) less frequently represented than males in titles, central roles, and stories; (3) represented in stereotyped roles such as wives, mothers, housekeepers, elementary teachers, and other service-oriented jobs; (4) represented in subordinate, home-related roles; (5) represented as being best fit to be helpmates to males and to depend on males for protection and support; (6) represented less frequently than males as intelligent, capable people with the ability to solve problems and get out of difficult situations; (7) frequently the recipients of derogatory comments; and (8) frequently represented in situations which reinforce culturally conditioned sexual characteristics illustrating as female such traits as dependency, passivity, emotionalism, and a non-competitive spirit.