Revisiting "The fertilization fairytale:" an analysis of gendered language used to describe fertilization in science textbooks from middle school to medical school

Lisa Campo-Engelstein, Nadia L. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Emily Martin's (Signs J Women Cult Soc 16(31):485-501, 1991) article, "The Egg and the Sperm: How Science Has Constructed a Romance Based on Stereotypical Male-Female Roles," was published in Signs over 20 years ago. In this groundbreaking article, she discusses how gender roles are often projected onto reproductive biology, leading to the portrayal of eggs as passive and sperm as active. We were interested in seeing if many of her findings are still relevant today. We analyzed science textbooks from the middle school to the medical school level to determine if fertilization in human reproduction is described in gender-biased language regarding the sentence structure, amount of information provided for female and male processes/parts, and neutrality in describing female and male processes/parts. Although there has been much improvement, there is still a long way to go. Sexist language in scientific textbooks is troubling because it negatively affects both female and male students and undermines teachers' ability to teach in an accurate and gender-neutral way.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-220
Number of pages20
JournalCultural Studies of Science Education
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Gender roles
  • Gendered language
  • Medical education
  • Reproductive biology
  • Science education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies

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