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


  • Claire L. Parkin University of Kent
  • Sharron Mackenzie



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



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.


Alexander, G. and Hines, M. (2002) ‘Sex differences in response to children's toys in nonhuman primates (Cercopithecus aethiops sabaeus)’, Evolution and Human Behavior, 23(6), pp. 467-479. doi: 10.1016/s1090-5138(02)00107-1.

Alexanderson, K. (1999) ‘An Assessment Protocol for Gender Analysis of Medical Literature’, Women & Health, 29(2), pp. 81-98. doi: 10.1300/j013v29n02_06.

Archer, L., DeWitt, J., Osborne, J., Dillon, J., Willis, B. and Wong, B. (2012) ‘Science Aspirations, Capital, and Family Habitus: How Families Shape Children's Engagement and Identification With Science’, American Educational Research Journal, 49(5), pp. 881-908. doi: 10.3102/0002831211433290.

Archer, L., Osborne, P., DeWitt, J., Dillion, J., Wong, B. and Willis, B. (2013) ‘ASPIRES Young people’s science and career aspirations, age 10 to 14’, Kings College London. Available at: (Accessed: 3 February 2016).

Askey, S., Baxter, T., Berry, S. and Dower, P. (2014) Key Stage 3. London: Harpercollins.

Atherton, J. (2013) ‘Piaget's developmental theory’, Available at: (Accessed: 30 April 2016).

Atkins (Global). (2015) The Skills Deficit. Consequences & opportunities for UK infrastructure. London: Atkins.

Babbie, E. (2013) The basics of social research. 6th edn. California: Wadsworth Pub.

Barmby, P. and Defty, N. (2006) ‘Secondary school pupils perceptions of physics’, Research in Science & Technological Education, 24(2), pp. 199-215. doi: 10.1080/02635140600811585.

Baxter, T., Berry, S., Dower, P. and Pilling, A. (2014) Collins key stage 3 science. London: Harpercollins.

Baxter, T., Berry, S., Dower, P., Gadd, K. and Pilling, A. (2014) Key stage 3 science. London: Harpercollins.

Bem, S. (1993) The lenses of gender. London: Yale University.

Betz, D. and Sekaquaptewa, D. (2012) ‘My Fair Physicist? Feminine Math and Science Role Models Demotivate Young Girls’, Social Psychological and Personality Science, 3(6), pp. 738-746. doi: 10.1177/1948550612440735.

Blumberg, R. (2008) Gender bias in textbooks: a hidden obstacle on the road to gender equality in education. Paper commissioned for the EFA Global Monitoring Report.

Boeree, C. (2000) ‘Gestalt Psychology’, Available at: (Accessed: 29 March 2016).

Bourdieu, P. (2009) ‘Masculine domination’. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Brugeilles, C. and Cromer, S. (2009) Analysing gender representations in school textbooks. Paris: UMR CEPED.

Buckley, C. (1996) ‘Children's Clothes: Design and Promotion’, in Kirkham, P. (ed.) The Gendered Object. 1st edn. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Burnett-Heyes, S. (2015) ‘Challenging gender bias in schools’, University of Birmingham. Available at: (Accessed 29 March 2017).

Butler, J. (1999) Gender trouble. New York: Routledge.

Clark-Blickenstaff, J. (2005) "Women and science careers: leaky pipeline or gender filter?", Gender and Education, 17(4), pp. 369-386. doi: 10.1080/09540250500145072.

Cohen, L., Manion, L. and Morrison, K. (2011) Research methods in education. 2nd edn. London: Routledge Falmer.

Cornish, T. (2016) ‘Unconscious bias and higher education’, Equality Challenge Unit. Available from: (Accessed 17 September 2016).

Creswell, J. (2014) Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches. 4th edn. California: Sage Publications.

Daly, A., Grant, L. and Bultitude, K. (2009) Girls into Physics: Action Research Evaluation Report. London: Department of Children, Schools and Families.

Danielsson, A. (2012) "Exploring woman university physics students ‘doing gender’ and ‘doing physics’, Gender and Education, 24(1), pp. 25-39. doi: 10.1080/09540253.2011.565040.

Department For Education and Skills. (2007) Gender and education: the evidence on pupils in England. London: Department For Education and Skills.

Department For Education. (2010) The STEM cohesion program: final report. London.

Dweck, C. (2007) Mindset. New York: Random House.

Elgar, A. (2004) ‘Science textbooks for lower secondary schools in Brunei: issues of gender equity’, International Journal of Science Education, 26(7), pp. 875-894. doi: 10.1080/0950069032000138888.

Ellefsen, K. (2015) Content Analysis of Archetypal Portrayal of Females in Picture Books Read in Preschool Classrooms. Ph.D. Walden University.

Equality Challenge Unit. (2013) Unconscious bias and higher education. Equality Challenge Unit.

Evans, L. and Davies, K. (2000) ‘No Sissy Boys Here: A Content Analysis of the Representation of Masculinity in Elementary School Reading Textbooks’, Sex Roles, 42(3/4), pp. 255-270. doi: 10.1023/a:1007043323906.

Fawcett Society (2017) Sounds Familiar? The Fawcett Society. Available at: Accessed 10 June 2017.

Fine, C. (2010) Delusions of gender. New York: W.W. Norton.

Gander, K. (2015) ‘Most toy adverts are ‘sexist’ and show ‘narrow and limiting’ gender stereotypes study warns’. The Independent. Available at: (Accessed 10 June 2017).

Gender Bias Project (2017). ‘Gender Bias: The games people play’. Gender Bias Project. Available at: (Accessed 10 June 2017).

Gharbavi, A. and Mousavi, S. (2012) ‘A Content Analysis of Textbooks: Investigating Gender Bias as a Social Prominence in Iranian High School English Textbooks’, ELR, 1(1). doi: 10.5430/elr.v1n1p42.

Grant, L., Bulitude, K. and Daly, A. (2010) Girls into Physics: Action Research A practical guide to developing and embedding good classroom practice. London: The Institute of Physics. Available at: (Accessed14 May 2010).

Harris, J. (2016) ‘Long hours, endless admin and angry parents and why schools just can’t get the teachers’, The Guardian. Available at: (Accessed 1 February 2016).

Harvard, (2011) Take a Test, Available at: (Accessed 10 July 2015).

Hill, C., Corbett, C. and St. Rose, A. (2010) Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Washington: AAUW.

Hollins, M., Murphy, P., Ponchaud, B. and Whitelegg, E. (2006) Girls in the physics classroom: a teachers guide for action. London: The Institute of Physics.

IBM Knowledge Centre, (2012) Chi-squared test, IBM Knowledge Centre. Available at: (Accessed 3 March 2016).

IREX, (2014) Developing Gender Responsive Learning Environment. 1st edn. USA: IREX. Available at: (Accessed 4 April 2016).

Jones, P. (2015) ‘Unconscious Bias’, University of Nottingham. Available at: (Accessed 14 June 2017).

Kahveci, A. (2010) ‘Quantitative Analysis of Science and Chemistry Textbooks for Indicators of Reform: A complementary perspective’, International Journal of Science Education, 32(11), pp. 1495-1519. doi: 10.1080/09500690903127649.

Keddie, A. and Mills, M. (2011) Teaching Boys: Classroom Practice. Available at: (Accessed: 20 March 2016).

Khine, M. (2013) Critical analysis of science textbooks. Dordrecht: Springer.

Koulaidis, V., Dimopoulos, K. and Sklaveniti, S. (2001) ‘Analysing the Texts of Science and Technology: School Science Textbooks and Daily Press Articles in the Public Domain’, in The Eighth International Literacy & Education Research Network Conference on Learning,. Spetses: Learning for the Future. Available at: (Accessed: 3 February 2016).

Krippendorff, K. (2004) Content analysis:an introduction to its methodology. 2nd ed. London: Sage Publications.

Lavy, V. and Sand, E. (2015) ‘On The Origins of Gender Human Capital Gaps: Short and Long Term Consequences of Teachers Stereotypical Biases’, National Bureau of Economic Research.

Lee, J. and Collins, P. (2009) ‘Australian English language textbooks: the gender issues’, Gender and Education, 21(4), pp. 353-370. doi: 10.1080/09540250802392257.

Leeuwen, T.C. and Jewitt, C. (2001) The Handbook of Visual Analysis. London: Sage.

Macdonald, A. (2014) It's Not for people like me. London: Women in Science and Engineering.

Martin, M., Mullis, I., Foy, P. and Stanco, G. (2011) ‘TIMSS 2011 International Results in Science’, Chestnut Hill, MA: TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center, Boston College. Available at: (Accessed: 3 March 2016).

Martins, A. and Garcia, M. (2016) ‘Between culture and the market: what do physics teachers take into account when choosing their textbooks?’, IARTEM Brazil e-Journal, 7(1). Available at: (Accessed: 14 March 2016).

Michalec, B. (2011) ‘The pursuit of medical knowledge and the potential consequences of the hidden curriculum’, Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine, 16(3), pp. 267-281. doi: 10.1177/1363459311403951.

Miller, D. (2010) Stuff. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Murphy, P. and Whitelegg, E. (2006) Girls in the Physics Classroom: A Review of the Research on the Participation of Girls in Physics. London: The Institute of Physics.

Nash, R. (1990) ‘Bourdieu on Education and Social and Cultural Reproduction’, British Journal of Sociology of Education, 11(4), pp. 431-447. doi: 10.1080/0142569900110405.

Neuendorf, K. (2010) "Content Analysis: A Methodological Primer for Gender Research", Sex Roles, 64(3-4), pp. 276-289. doi: 10.1007/s11199-010-9893-0.

Neuendorf, K. (2002) The content analysis guidebook. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications.

Oates, T. (2014) Why Textbooks Count. 1st ed. Cambridge: Cambridge Assessment. Available at: (Accessed: 14 July 2014).

OECD. (2012). ‘Closing the Gender Gap’, OECD. p1-19. (accessed 17 June 2017).

Retelsdorf, J., Schwartz, K. and Asbrock, F. (2015) ‘Michael can’t read! Teachers gender stereotypes and boys reading self-concept’, Journal of Educational Psychology,, 107(1), pp. 186-194.

Roberts, G. (2002) SET for success: The supply of people with science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills. London. Available at: (Accessed: 9 May 2014).

Rose, S., Spinks, N. and Canhoto, A. (2015) Management Research: Applying the Principles. Abingdon: Routeledge.

Rourke, L., Anderson, T., Garrison, R. and Archer, W. (2011) "Methodological Issues in the Content Analysis of Computer Conference Transcripts.", International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education, 12, pp. 8-22.

Ryle, R. (2015) Questioning gender: A Sociological Exploration. 2nd ed. Thousand California: SAGE/Pine Forge Press.

Seguino, S. (2008) Micro-Macro Linkages between Gender, Development and Growth: Implications for the Caribbean Region. VT: University of Vermount. (accessed June 2017).

Smith, S.L., Choueiti, M. and Pieper, K. (2016) Gender Bias without Borders. USA: University of Southern California

Sunar, S. (2011) Analysis of Science Textbooks for A-Levels in the UK. 1st ed. Turkey: Middle East Technical University. Available at: (Accessed: 17 June 2015).

Swanepol, S. (2010) The assessment of the quality of science education textbooks: Conceptual framework and instruments for analysis. PhD. UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH AFRICA.

Tantengco, N. (2014) ‘Assessment of gender equality in the secondary social studies curriculum: basis for a proposed guide in preparing gender fair instructional materials’, Standard Global Journal of Educational Research, 1(3), pp. 62-71.

Taylor, F. (2003) ‘Content Analysis and Gender Stereotypes in Children's Books’, Teaching Sociology, 31(3), p. 300. doi: 10.2307/3211327.

The Institute of Physics, (2012) It's different for girls. London: The Institute of Physics.

The Institute of Physics, (2013a) Closing Doors. London: The Institute of Physics.

The Institute of Physics, (2013b) Physics and: teacher support An Institute of Physics briefing note. London: The Institute of Physics.

The Institute of Physics, (2014). ‘Improving Gender Balance’. Institute of Physics report. (assessed June 2017).

June 2017).

The Institute of Physics, (2015) Opening Doors. London: The Institute of Physics.

The National Audit Office, (2016) Department for Education Training New Teachers. London: The National Audit Office.

UK Commision for Employment and Skills, (2013) Supply and Demand of High Level STEM Skills: Final Report. London: UK Commision for Employment and Skills.

UN. (2015) ‘The Millenium Development Goals Report 2015’. United Nations. (accessed June 2017).

Van Leeuwen, T. and Jewitt, C. (2000) Handbook of visual analysis. London: SAGE.

Van Raden, S. (2011) The Effect of Role Models on the Attitudes and Career Choices of Female Students Enrolled in High School Science. Masters Degree. Portland State University.

Wang, H. (1998) ‘Science Textbook Studies Reanalysis: Teachers ‘Friendly’ Content Analysis Methods?’, in Annual Meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching. Available at: (Accessed: 14 February 2016).

Weber, R. (1990) Basic Content Analysis. 2nd ed. London: Sage.

Whiteley, P. (1996) ‘The gender balance of physics textbooks: Caribbean and British books, 1985-91’, Physics Education, 31(3), pp. 169-174. doi: 10.1088/0031-9120/31/3/018.

Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, (2015) Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics: The Talent Pipeline from Classroom to Boardroom. London: Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Available at: (Accessed: 3 February 2016).

Woolley, J. (2011) ‘How to conduct a clinical audit’, Clinical Pharmacist, 3. Available at: (Accessed: 27 March 2015).

World Economic Forum (2016) ‘Shaping the future of Education, Gender and Work’, (Accessed: 30th June 2016)

Wren, D. (1999) ‘School Culture: Exploring the Hidden Curriculum’, Adolescence, 34(135).

Xiaoping, Y. (2005) "Gender Representation in Textbooks: A case study of three English Reading Books", Journal of Southeast Asian Education, 5(1-2), pp. 85-93.




How to Cite

Parkin, C. L., & Mackenzie, S. (2017). Is there Gender Bias in Key Stage 3 Science Textbooks?: Content Analysis Using the Gender Bias 14 (GB14) Measurement Tool. Advanced Journal of Professional Practice, 1(1).