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Gharbavi, A & Mousavi, S. A. (2013). Systemic Functional Linguistics: As an Innovative Approach to Language and Gender Study

Gharbavi, A & Mousavi, S. A. (2013). Systemic Functional Linguistics: As an Innovative Approach to Language and Gender Study

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  • 1. Systemic Functional Linguistics: As an Innovative Approach to Language and Gender Study Second National Conference on Language, Discourse and Pragmatics Ahvaz, Jan 23-25, 2013 Abdullah Gharbavi Seyyed Ahmad Mousavi Pame Noor University
  • 2. Outline of presentation Aim and purpose of the study Inspirational ideas led me to do this study Previous research and background Research questions Hypotheses Methodology Results and discussion Conclusion Pedagogical implications Suggested solusions
  • 3. 1. Aim and purpose of the study The purpose of the present study is to find out whether Iranian high school English textbooks are sexist textbooks which discriminate between male and female students based on their sex. To this end, four English textbooks currently taught in the Iranian high schools were examined for that purpose. 
  • 4. 2. Inspirational ideas led me to do this study • A conversational topic in a language institute, when I used to teach English there: Do teachers treat girls and boys equally and fairly? • Despite increased awareness of gender bias and attempt to counteract this, the problem persists, within education as in other contexts (Swann, 1992, p.34).
  • 5. • The problem of gender bias language has been around us for centuries and still does exist in the dot com era(Swann, 2005).
  • 6. • Generic nouns and pronouns (such as you and we) were observed not to be true generic ones because they are often associated with male pictures. See the following picture which has been taken from (English Book 2, p.13) If you want to take a photograph, you must have a camera. Is this fair?
  • 7. 3. Previous studies Porreca, 1984 Peterson & Kroner, 1992 Reese, 1994 Lesikin (2001) Ansary & Babii, 2003
  • 8. 4. Research questions 1. Are males more visible than females in the written texts? 2. Are males more visible than females in the illustrations of the textbooks?? 3. Are males in the position of theme and rheme as well as the last stressed element of clauses are more than those of females. In other words, do males have more social prominence than females as represented by the textbooks? 4. Do male nouns and pronouns outnumber their counterparts in all participant roles? In other words, do men perform more and different social roles than those of men, as it is represented by the textbooks?
  • 9. 5. Hypotheses: In order to gain robust results and to text the data statistically, the following four hypotheses were proposed: 1. Males are more visible than females in texts of the textbooks. 2. Males are more visible than females in illustrations of the textbooks. 3. Males in the position of theme and rheme as well as the last stressed element of clauses are more than those of females. In other words, males have more social prominence than females. 4. Male nouns and pronouns outnumber their counterparts in all participant roles. In other words, men perform more and different social roles than those of women.
  • 10. 6. Methodology 6.1 Materials: Four current EFL/ELT textbooks, i.e. English Book 1, 2, 3, and Learning to Read English for Pre-university Students 6.2 Data collection procedures: For content analysis(frequency analysis): (1) The frequencies of male and female mentions in texts and illustrations were counted and tabulated . For linguistic analysis (thematic and semantic role analysis): (1) First, all the clauses containing at least one gender-specific noun or pronoun (e.g. Maryam has an English book) were collected. (2) Second, these clauses were categorized by gender and by theme/rheme distinction. And the same clauses were examined to see if they contain last stressed gender-specific nouns or pronouns. 3. Third, all gender-specific noun or pronouns performing particular semantic or participant roles were counted and tabulated 6.3 Data analysis procedures: To analyze the data the following descriptive statistics were used: a) frequency and percentage and b) chi-square test
  • 11. 7. Results & Discussion Hypothesis 1: Males are more visible than females in texts of the surveyed textbooks. Table 7.1 Frequency of male and female visibility in the text of all the four books Male Female Total Book title F % F % F % English Book 1 161 74 57 26 218 100 English Book 2 107 69 49 31 156 100 English Book 3 136 71 56 29 192 100 Pre-university 44 65 24 35 68 100 English Book Total 448 71 186 29 634 100 Note 1: All percentages are rounded to the nearest whole number so that they add up to 100% . Note 2: F=Frequency, % =Percentage
  • 12. Testing the first hypothesis: Table 7.2 Chi-square test for males and females' visibility in the texts. 2 2 Sex O E O-E (O-E) (O-E) E Males 448 317 131 17161 54.14 Females 186 317 -131 17161 54.14 108.28 P=0/05 d f=1 O=observed frequency 2 X = Chi- square test X2=108.28 E=expected frequency df= degree of freedom At the .05 level and with 1 degree of freedom, the critical Chi-square is 3.84. Since the obtained Chi-squares (108.28) is greater than the critical value of Chi-square, we can safely accept the hypothesis that males are more visible than females in texts of these textbooks
  • 13. Hypothesis 2: Males are more visible than females in the pictures of the textbooks. Table 7.3 Frequency of males and females visibility in the Pictures of all the four text books Book title English Book 1 English Book 2 English Book 3 Pre-university English Book Total Male F 103 80 78 23 284 % 77 78 70 92 76 Female F 31 23 35 2 91 % 23 22 30 8 24 Total F 134 103 113 25 375 % 100 100 100 100 100
  • 14. Testing the second hypothesis Table 7.4 Chi-square test for sex category and visibility in the pictures Sex O E O-E (O-E)2 Males Females 284 91 187.5 187.5 96.5 -96.5 9312.25 9312.25 P=0.05 df=1 (O-E)2 E 49.67 49.67 99. 34 X2=99.34 The observed chi-square is larger than the critical chi-square. Therefore, the second hypothesis is confirmed at the 0.05 level of significance
  • 15. Hypothesis 3: Males in the position of theme and rheme as well as the last stressed element of clauses are more than those of females. In other words, males have more social prominence than females as represented by the textbooks. Table 7.5 Frequency of gender specific nouns and pronouns in all the four textbooks Thematic male structures F Theme Rheme Last stressed element Total % Female F % Total F % 211 31 80 71 54 13 20 29 265 44 100 100 11 74 4 26 15 100 253 79 71 21 324 100 Note 1: Theme = Psychological subject of a clause; rheme = noun or Pronoun developing the subject. Note 2: Last stressed element is the last constituent of the clause that bears the information focus of a clause. For example: This book is Mr. Ahmadi's
  • 16. Testing Hypothesis 3: 7.6. Chi-square test for sex category and element Sex Thematic O E structures Males Theme 211 207.11 Rheme 31 34.39 Last stressed 11 11.73 element Females Theme 54 57.90 Rheme 13 9.62 Last stressed 4 3.28 element theme, rheme, and last stressed 3.89 -3.39 -0.73 (O-E)2 (O-E)2 E 15.14 0.08 11.50 0.34 0.54 0.50 -3.9 3.38 0.72 15.21 11.43 0.52 O-E 0.27 1.19 0.16 3.54 P=5 d f=2 X2=3.54 Since the obtained chi-square is greater than that of the critical chi- square, the second hypothesis is supported.
  • 17. Hypothesis 4: Male nouns and pronouns outnumber their counterparts in all types of participant roles. Table 7.7 Frequency of participant roles of gender-specific nouns and pronouns in all four textbooks male Female Total Participant roles F % F % F % Actor 35 70 15 30 50 100 Senser 11 34 21 66 32 100 Token 25 53 23 47 48 100 Sayer 33 69 16 31 49 100 Possessor 31 68 15 32 46 100 Total 135 60 90 40 225 100 Note: Actor = a doer ; senser = a person's feeling, thinking or seeing; token = a person having an attribute or relation to another; sayer= a verbaliser; possessor= owner
  • 18. Testing hypothesis 4 Table 7.8. Chi-square test for sex category and participant roles Sex Participant O E O-E (O-E)2 Roles Males Actor 35 30 5 25 Senser 11 19.2 -8.2 62.24 Token 25 28.8 -3.8 14.44 Sayer 33 29.4 3.6 12.96 possessor 31 27.6 3.4 11.56 Females Actor 15 20 -5 25 Senser 21 12.8 8.2 67.24 Token 23 19.2 3.8 14.44 Sayer 16 19.6 -3.6 12.96 possessor 15 18.4 -3.4 11.56 P=5 df=4 (O-E)2 E 0.84 3.25 0.51 0.45 0.42 1.25 5.26 0.76 0.67 0.63 14.04 X2=14.04 The obtained Chi-square is far much greater than the critical value of Chi-square, thus the last hypothesis was accepted at the 0.05 level of significance.
  • 19. 8. Conclusion Both in texts and illustrations women suffered from underrepresentation. Close examination of various semantic roles revealed subtle gender stereotyping roles and females were under-represented and overloaded with traditional stereotypical roles whereas males appeared only as cooperative. Theme is the most important part of the clause from the point of view of its representation of a message in a sequence (Halliday, 2004). The last stressed element (end-focus) of a clause is also important. These positions bear the information focus and have more communicative prominence. Males have been found to dominate these thematic positions of the clauses. Results revealed that the books studied were biased in terms of all the categories investigated.
  • 20. 9.Pedagogical implications One implication of this study might be to raise awareness and consciousness in EFL material developers regarding gender prejudiced materials so as to help them initiate modifications regarding such inequities after almost 20 years of publishing the same gender-bias loaded materials with no change. Material developers and curriculum designers should pay attention to and consider the guidelines of gender-fair material development Teachers, in addition, if made aware can deal with gender-biased materials logically and present them in an unbiased way (Sunderland et. al., 2001).
  • 21. 10. Problem solution 1. We attempt to bring these linguistic imbalances to the textbooks writers’ attention who are responsible for designing and writing the textbooks. 2. The writers of the textbooks should attempt to let more females to function as actors, sayers and possessors. 3. let both men and women authors to have roles in writing and designing textbooks. 4. The following rules should be observed when we write or speak.
  • 22. Avoid the generic use of "He". Instead recast it into the plural Sexist Non-sexist Give each student his paper as soon as he Give students their papers as soon as they is finished are finished Eliminate the He pronoun Sexist Non-sexist The average student is worried about his The average student is worried about grades. grades.
  • 23. Replace the masculine pronoun with "you" Sexist Non-sexist If the student is dissatisfied with his grade, If you are dissatisfied with your grade, he can appeal you can appeal Replace the masculine pronoun with "he or she" Sexist Non-sexist If the student is dissatisfied with his grade, Student who is dissatisfied with his/her he can appeal grade can appeal Use plural indefinite pronouns (definite pronouns are always singular: anyone, anybody, someone, somebody, everyone, everybody, one, each, every) Sexist Non-sexist Anyone who wants to go must bring his All those who want to go must bring their money tomorrow money tomorrow
  • 24. Use the double-pronoun construction (use sparingly) Sexist Every person has a right to his opinion. Non-sexist Every person has a right to his or her opinion. Use de-gendered terms for both males and females. Sexist actress waiter/waitress steward/stewardess hostess Non-sexist actor wait help flight attendant host
  • 25. De-gender, don't re-gender Sexist Non-sexist Chairman=chairwoman(re-gendered) Chair Chairperson(de-gendered) The word "Man" and its derivations should be avoided Sexist cameraman clergyman fireman policeman spokesman weatherman Non-sexist Camera operator, photographer Priest, clergy firefighter Police officer spokesperson forecaster
  • 26. Thank you for being fair Any questions? Any comments?