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Gender-Positioning within the Visual Network: How (Non-) Inclusive Can EFL Materials Get?

Year 2022, Volume 26, 11 - 18, 13.12.2022


Much of the research on gender representations in language teaching materials has focused on providing frequency-based accounts of character appearances, familial/occupational role attributions and sexist language use. However, gender discrimination, when communicated visually, might more readily drop off the already overburdened teacher’s radar. Therefore, this study concentrated not just on the depiction of coursebook images but also on their relation to the learners, and aimed to discover the latent sexism in three thematically similar units from one global and two locally-produced coursebooks widely used in the Turkish and Iranian EFL contexts. A critical analysis of 41 images with Van Leeuwen’s (2008) framework revealed that male overrepresentation prevailed throughout all three resources, though to a lesser extent in the global coursebook. The characters mainly avoided direct contact with the viewers by averting their gaze and offered themselves as visual cues for denotative meanings. The global and Turkish-made series tended to position them both closer to the young readers and at their eye level to help build intimacy with more relatable role models. In their Iranian counterpart, the male and female characters were yet socially distanced from them through long shots taken from low and high angles respectively, in which case men were portrayed as authority figures to be looked up to, and women as the diminished other to be looked down on by the students. While both genders were oftener seen frontally in the Turkish EFL material with mixed-gender authorship, the all-male author teams preferred to show the male characters from an oblique angle to further detachment in the global and Iranian contexts. In establishing relatively closer, more personal and engaging interactions with both boys and girls visually, the global and Turkish EFL materials can be claimed to encode a more inclusive and equitable worldview than their Iranian counterpart.


  • Simsek, M. R. (2022). Gender-positioning within the visual network: How (non-)inclusive can EFL materials get? The Eurasia Proceedings of Educational & Social Sciences (EPESS), 26, 11-18.


Primary Language English
Subjects Social
Journal Section Articles

Meliha R. SIMSEK This is me

Early Pub Date December 13, 2022
Publication Date December 13, 2022
Published in Issue Year 2022, Volume 26, Issue


APA R. Sımsek, M. (2022). Gender-Positioning within the Visual Network: How (Non-) Inclusive Can EFL Materials Get? . The Eurasia Proceedings of Educational and Social Sciences , 26 , 11-18 . DOI: 10.55549/epess.1196823