GRIT - Aiming to achieve neutral and equal Gender Representation in Textbooks.
The aim of this automatic, machine learning driven toolkit is to remove the abject lack of equal gender representation in the State Board textbooks of India. Our goal also extends globally as we promote people to check whether their textbooks contain an equal representation of males and females around the world, and advocate for change!!
UNESCO has explored the need for gender neutrality in school textbooks in a GEM report (Gender bias is rife in textbooks), and the Indian National Education Policy’s draft 2019 has explicitly stated their goal to “Achieve an inclusive and equitable education system so that all children have equal opportunity to learn and thrive, and so that participation and learning outcomes are equalised across all genders and social categories by 2030”. The NEP’s draft (Draft National Education Policy 2019 (Revised)) explains that they plan to make changes to curricula and textbooks as well to attain this goal.
This toolkit directly addresses these aspirations by providing an automatic way to quantify gender representation (and remove any possibilities of human biases). I have achieved this using Image Classification techniques and Coreference resolution. My name is Ananya Gupta and I am a high school student who is extremely passionate about gender equality. As a co-founder of the GirlUp chapter at my school, I am constantly exploring avenues to ameliorate issues related to gender equality. I am also a budding Machine Learning student, and am particularly intrigued by the concept of using AI for social good. The issues around a lack of representation of females has often caused a dip in motivation and participation. Achievements in school will continue to be undermined, affecting their future life chances.
Education plays a key role in determining the values and beliefs of a future society, making inculcating values of gender equality into their education system a necessity. Currently, textbooks have a great disparity in the representation of males and females. The number of illustrations featuring males versus females, the number of stories with a male or a female protagonist, and the roles each gender are cast in have led to a clear and quantitative indication of the lack of gender inclusivity and equality within the textbooks themselves. There is abundant research available on this topic, and I conducted some of my own on the Karnataka Board textbooks (gritparity Research). Overall, by using the same parameters used by this toolkit, a summary of the research shows that there is 74.7% representation of males and only 25.3% representation of females (with 0% of transgender individuals).
If education is what forms the foundation of a future society , it is of dire importance to ensure that the textbooks encourage students to build beliefs and values of gender equality. Textbooks should tarnish the ideas that often lead to, not only biases, but also the building of gender roles that cement in children’s minds and affect the paths and careers they choose for themselves. They build a social construct early on, which could deeply affect the choices they make for themselves in the future . To ensure that there is equal opportunity and belief in the potential of each gender in the future, the Karnataka Board textbooks must be changed!!
“A longer-term consequence of this kind of systemic bias and discrimination that children witness in school is that many of these groups then remain underrepresented and discriminated against when they grow up and join the professional education community as teachers, school leaders, and educational functionaries, creating a vicious cycle of discrimination.” - NEP 2019 Draft
All comic strips taken from the UNESCO GEM reports Gender Review Cartoon , Gender equality through school: providing a safe and inclusive learning environment
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