'Womenomics', a signature programme promoted by the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, aims to boost the country's economy by attracting women, an under-utilized resource, to join the workforce. To achieve this aim, the Japanese Government has been promoting a gender-equal society in various areas, including education. This paper seeks to investigate whether the government's endeavour to promote a gender-equal society is reflected in contemporary Japanese EFL textbooks. Three recently published popular textbooks were examined. The findings revealed evidence of the authors' gender awareness, including common use of gender-neutral vocabulary and a neutral term of address, Ms, for women. Two textbooks also displayed a balanced distribution of male and female speakers and their amount of talk. However, underrepresentation of women and their achievements is still prevalent in contemporary Japanese textbooks. Other observations include the portrayal of men in a wider range of social roles than women, and the depiction of men using material and cognitive processes and women using relational processes, suggesting that men are more physically and cognitively active than women. A gender dichotomy was also noted in mixed-sex dialogues, with a tendency for men to provide information and for women to seek information. Copyright © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
CitationLee, J. F. K. (2019). In the pursuit of a gender-equal society: Do Japanese EFL textbooks play a role? Journal of Gender Studies, 28(2), 204-217. doi: 10.1080/09589236.2018.1423956