A Visual Analysis of a Malaysian English School Textbook: Gender Matters

  •  Mohamad Subakir Mohd Yasin    
  •  Bahiyah Abdul Hamid    
  •  Zarina Othman    
  •  Kesumawati Abu Bakar    
  •  Fuzirah Hashim    
  •  Azmah Mohti    


In the Malaysian education system, attention is highly paid on reading words. Visual images are often treated as “decoration”, or are dismissed altogether (Kress & Leeuwen, 1996). Many local researchers (Saedah 1990, Bahiyah et al., 2008) have only analysed written texts to see how social practices deemed negative such as gender biasness are reflected in the words (lexical items) and linguistic structures. Currently, no systematic research has been undertaken in Malaysia to analyse visual images in English language school textbooks to study how visual images can reflect gender biasness. This research project addresses gender biasness found in visual images in school textbooks, i.e., the treatment of one gender over the other especially of women and girls. The project adopts three widely used approaches for analyzing visual images; content, socio semiotic and ethno-methodology analyses. This paper will however highlight its preliminary analysis focusing on image analysis based on participation, gender and representational meanings. Its aim is to identify the types of images and the representation of gender biasness and stereotyping found in the textbook. The preliminary findings should expose the sexism and gender biasness in the visual images of a sampled textbook; i.e. an English school textbook that is abound with visual images that sometimes, more so than written texts, can articulate more forcefully social and cultural meanings.

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