Textbooks are a rich source of information of any discipline and biases contained in them may influence readers’ perception of several issues, such as gender for instance. Textbooks may perpetuate and reinforce gender bias and sexism in several ways. Starting with the assumption that language is a highly manipulative, powerful and ideological tool for communication, it will be argued that scientific language, far from being neutral and objective, is still characterised by masculine bias. ‘When science was first identified as having a masculine basis, many asked whether this implies that there is a feminine science or that women would do science differently from men. In addition, most feminist science studies scholars try to understand the relationships among science, gender, race, class, sexuality, disability and colonialism and how science constructs and applies these differences’ (Crasnow et al. 2015). The rise of second-wave feminism in the 1970s was accompanied by an ongoing debate over the ways in which medicine differentiates between social groups and supports hegemonic ideologies defining gender roles, as well as those dealing with race and social class. From a feminist perspective, medical discourse has historically constituted a site of sexual discrimination by using medico-scientific justifications for differentiating women from men on the basis of biology and anatomy. This paper is aimed at exploring gender issues, ideology and sexism in scientific, and more precisely, medical textbooks (mainly anatomy and physiology texts) used at university level, both in their original language and in Italian, including translations into Italian. Translation is one of the most fertile grounds for studying ideological shifts and manipulation in language, as it is not a neutral activity, as also acknowledged by many scholars (Fawcett 1995, 1997, 2001; Venuti 1992, 1995, 1998; Hatim and Mason 1990, 1997; Leonardi 2007). From a linguistic point of view, translation is made up of words, which may carry with them a particular ideological positioning. A contrastive analysis of translations of medical textbooks into Italian will help better assess whether sexism is maintained or omitted in the final product. Sexism in medical textbooks will be explored by looking at the 1) comparison of titles and their translation into Italian, 2) analysis and comparison of pictures contained in the source texts (STs) and in the translated versions (including front covers), and 3) corpus-driven analysis of sexist vs gender-neutral terms used in the Merck Manual and in its Italian translation.

Gender, Language and Translation in the Health Sciences: Gender Biases in Medical Textbooks

LEONARDI, Vanessa
2017

Abstract

Textbooks are a rich source of information of any discipline and biases contained in them may influence readers’ perception of several issues, such as gender for instance. Textbooks may perpetuate and reinforce gender bias and sexism in several ways. Starting with the assumption that language is a highly manipulative, powerful and ideological tool for communication, it will be argued that scientific language, far from being neutral and objective, is still characterised by masculine bias. ‘When science was first identified as having a masculine basis, many asked whether this implies that there is a feminine science or that women would do science differently from men. In addition, most feminist science studies scholars try to understand the relationships among science, gender, race, class, sexuality, disability and colonialism and how science constructs and applies these differences’ (Crasnow et al. 2015). The rise of second-wave feminism in the 1970s was accompanied by an ongoing debate over the ways in which medicine differentiates between social groups and supports hegemonic ideologies defining gender roles, as well as those dealing with race and social class. From a feminist perspective, medical discourse has historically constituted a site of sexual discrimination by using medico-scientific justifications for differentiating women from men on the basis of biology and anatomy. This paper is aimed at exploring gender issues, ideology and sexism in scientific, and more precisely, medical textbooks (mainly anatomy and physiology texts) used at university level, both in their original language and in Italian, including translations into Italian. Translation is one of the most fertile grounds for studying ideological shifts and manipulation in language, as it is not a neutral activity, as also acknowledged by many scholars (Fawcett 1995, 1997, 2001; Venuti 1992, 1995, 1998; Hatim and Mason 1990, 1997; Leonardi 2007). From a linguistic point of view, translation is made up of words, which may carry with them a particular ideological positioning. A contrastive analysis of translations of medical textbooks into Italian will help better assess whether sexism is maintained or omitted in the final product. Sexism in medical textbooks will be explored by looking at the 1) comparison of titles and their translation into Italian, 2) analysis and comparison of pictures contained in the source texts (STs) and in the translated versions (including front covers), and 3) corpus-driven analysis of sexist vs gender-neutral terms used in the Merck Manual and in its Italian translation.
978-1-4438-5195-4
Gender discrimination, Sexism, Translation, Ideology
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11392/2371567
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