WASHINGTON, March 8 (UPI) -- A report published Tuesday by World Education Blog found that textbooks continue to under-represent women, which could undermine girls' education.
Textbooks are used as a core means of teaching in 70 to 95 percent of classroom time, according to the blog's Global Education Monitoring Report.
"Gender-sensitive books can encourage children to discuss gender stereotypes and help promote equitable behavior," the report states. "Conversely, discriminatory gender norms and practices conveyed in and through textbooks can lower their engagement in the classroom and limit their expectations in education and in life."
The study was conducted to investigate the persistence of gender bias in textbooks and to remind officials that until gender bias is addressed, the motivation, participation and achievement in school for girls will continue to be undermined, which may affect their future opportunities.
"Unfortunately, however measured -- in lines of text, proportions of named characters, mentions in titles, citations in indexes -- girls and women are under-represented in textbooks and curricula," the study adds.
In China, females only appear frequently in reading materials for very young children. The male-to-female ratio of books designed for 4-year-olds compared to 6-year-olds rose from 48 percent to 61 percent, respectively. Social studies textbooks depicted all scientists and soldiers as men, while all teachers and three-fourths of service personnel were women, according to the study.
"Females represented only about one-fifth of the historical characters in the 12-volume primary Chinese textbooks and appeared dull and lifeless in comparison with the more vibrant males," the study continues.
In India, more than half of illustrations in English, Hindi, math, science and social studies textbooks depicted only male characters, while 6 percent showed females.
"In the six mathematics books used in primary schools, men dominated activities representing commercial, occupational and marketing situations, with not a single woman depicted as an executive, engineer, shopkeeper or merchant," according to the study.
In Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Togo and Tunisia, the proportion of female characters to males in math textbooks was 30 percent in each country in the late 2000s. Those textbooks also portrayed men and women in stereotypical fashion.
"Women were portrayed as accommodating, nurturing household workers and girls as passive conformists, while boys and men were engaged in almost all the impressive, noble, exciting and fun things, and almost none of the caregiving roles," the report said.
In Australia, 57 percent of characters in textbooks were men, despite there being more females than males in the country, according to a previous study.
In Iran, men make up 80 percent of characters in textbooks designed by the country's Ministry of Education.