Gender representation in Japanese EFL textbooks: A corpus study

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This paper seeks to investigate whether the Japanese government’s attempt to promote a ‘gender-equal’ society in recent decades and the improved status of women are reflected in patterns of gender representation in Japanese English as a foreign language textbooks. The study made an analysis of four popular series of English language textbooks published in 2011 for local Japanese students with corpus linguistic tools (e.g. concordancing, keyword in context) to investigate the ratio of female-to-male appearances, the extent of use of gender-neutral and gender-marked constructions, the common adjectives associated with women and men, the common address titles for reference to women, and the order of appearance of women and men. The findings revealed some evidence of gender equity, including common use of gender-inclusive vocabulary (e.g. salesclerk, waitperson) and the neutral address title Ms for women. The ‘male-first’ phenomenon, however, is still prevalent in contemporary Japanese textbooks, suggesting the secondary status of women. Variations were found in different series of textbooks pertaining to the representation of women and men in the domains of quantitative balance and gender stereotyping. It is suggested that specific guidelines be compiled by the education authorities to help textbook authors write educational materials that help promote a gender-fair society in Japan. Copyright © 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-395
JournalGender and Education
Issue number3
Early online dateJul 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2018


Lee, J. F. K. (2018). Gender representation in Japanese EFL textbooks: A corpus study. Gender and Education, 30(3), 379-395. doi: 10.1080/09540253.2016.1214690


  • Equality
  • Gender
  • Japan
  • Sexism
  • Textbook


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