While women constitute a majority of the U.S. population, they still make up only a minority of political officeholders. Some of the literature in political ambition argues that one of the reasons for the dearth of women in elective office is that women are less socialized than men to want to run for political office. The same literature suggests that such disparity can be traced back to high school. This exploratory paper examines the possibility that the disparity may be due, at least in part, to the different ways in which men and women are represented in civics textbooks. Specifically, because some works already suggest that women are less represented than men in civics textbooks, this work examines whether there are any differences between the way that regular and AP civics textbooks represent men and women. This was done using content analysis on AP and regular textbooks from three schools each from different districts in the state of Arizona. The findings from the content analyses were consistent with the first three hypotheses: that (1) the AP civics textbooks have a higher percentage of women than do the regular civics textbooks, (2) the AP civics textbooks devote a higher percentage of pages to women’s names than do the regular civic textbooks, and that (3) that both the AP and regular civics textbooks discuss women and men with a neutral tone. However, findings were not consistent with the fourth hypothesis, (4) that there will be more female role models among the top mentioned women in AP textbooks than there will be role models among the top mentioned women in regular textbooks. The manifest content analysis revealed that the percent of women mentioned in the AP textbooks sampled was 2.8 to 3 times higher than that of regular textbooks. That ratio increased to 4 to 4.5 times when the percent of pages mentioning women were taken into account. The latent content analysis, which assessed the tone of each sentence, revealed that men and women were generally treated neutrally when compared with one another in all of the textbooks studied—thus strengthening the substantive significance of the aforementioned ratios. Further analyses conducted for Hypothesis 4, however, revealed that in the regular and AP textbooks studied, female role models were mentioned both less often and less strongly than were male role models.
- Putting the ""AP"" in the Gender Gap: A Content Analysis Exploring the Differential Treatment of Women in Regular and AP High School Civics Textbooks