I read an article yesterday by Joyce Delaney called Voices Not Heard: Women in a History Textbook. As I think about my text on trial assignment, I, obviously, need to make sure that my students are noticing how women are treated by the authors. How frequently are women mentioned? When women are mentioned, what kind of language is used? In addition to what words are used, what words are not used?
The author states the following powerful and revealing question posed to a group of high school seniors: In five minutes or less, can you name "twenty famous American women, past or present, excluding sports or entertainment figures?" The average student names four or five women. Why is this the case? The author and the teachers who posed the question point to textbooks. Students know so few women, they argue, "because their books tell them little".