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Balance the books, say women;Briefing International

CHINA

Academics have called for China's state education publishers to update their portrayal of women in textbooks following a survey that revealed 89 per cent of pictures featured men.

The few women characters were portrayed as nurses, teachers or home-makers, according to Dr Shi Jing-huan, who runs the gender issues in education course at Beijing Normal University. Men were shown as more creative and independent.

Research students visiting kindergartens and primaries discovered teachers asked girls the easy questions and boys the difficult ones. "When asked why, teachers would say that boys were not afraid of making mistakes," said Dr Shi.

In secondaries boys were encouraged into science and technical subjects and girls into arts.

"Education reform touches a lot of issues, but not gender," said Dr Shi. "It is important teacher-training schools adopt this gender perspective."

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