Is there Gender Bias in Key Stage 3 Science Textbooks?: Content Analysis Using the Gender Bias 14 (GB14) Measurement Tool.

Claire L. Parkin, Sharron Mackenzie



Background: In recent times, there has been much interest in the worlds of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) over why a gender gap exists. The gap exists from as early as infancy and continues onwards through to secondary school where it has been shown to influence choice of A-Level’s. The result of this gender gap is therefore thought to influence future career options and the longer term career trajectory. The objective of this study was to develop an instrument that measures overall gender bias, or genderness, within key stage 3 textbooks; Textbooks which may be exerting an influence on an individual’s choice of A level study, and their subsequent career. 

Methods: Using descriptors that reflect different aspects of genderness, the Gender Bias 14 (GB14) tool was developed, piloted and tested for inter-rater reliability. The tool was then used to analyse the content of Key Stage 3 textbooks for genderness and a genderness score was generated for each chapter.

Results: With high rater-reliability, the GB14 tool was used to analyse the content of all key stage three science textbooks for gender bias and a genderness score was generated. Results have demonstrated that of the 18 chapters across the entire Key Stage 3 Science curriculum textbooks, 16 of those chapters were highly male biased. Overall, there were more male images, more male role-models, more male pronouns, more male-gendered words and more occasions where the ‘status’ of the male was ‘improved’ compared to the female measured status.

Conclusion: The GB14 analysis tool has determined that the Collins Textbooks for Key Stage 3 Science are very highly gendered and have a strong bias towards males which, whilst the impact has not been directly measured here, has the potential to severely disadvantage females students within the classroom. This further adds to the ‘Hidden Curriculum’ which reportedly influences students future life choices (Wren, 1999; Blumberg, 2008; Michalec, 2011). The GB14 fulfils modern measurement tool requirements for content validity and provides a global score of genderness severity present within textbooks.


Gender Bias, Genderness, Key Stage 3, Science Textbooks, STEM

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