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Exploring Gender Stereotypes and Sexism in Learning Apps: Insights from Austrian Secondary School Students

Mobile educational applications (learning apps) have gained significant popularity in classrooms due to their potential to enhance student engagement and improve learning outcomes. However, it is crucial to ensure that these apps not only facilitate educational content but also promote equality, challenge gender stereotypes, and avoid perpetuating discriminatory practices. This study aims to investigate the perceptions of secondary school students regarding gender representations, the use of gender-neutral language, and the presence of gender-derogatory terms in two selected learning apps: “Simpleclub” and “StudySmarter”. This study involved a sample of 244 students aged between 11 and 18 years from two Austrian secondary schools. The students actively participated in teaching and learning activities where the learning apps were integrated into the curriculum. To gather data, an online questionnaire comprising both open-ended and closed-ended questions was administered to the participants. The questionnaire aimed to capture the students' feedback on their perceptions of gender representations, language usage, and stereotypes within the learning apps. The findings of the study revealed that gender-typical representations were prevalent in both learning apps. In “Simpleclub” men were primarily portrayed based on superficial factors such as age, clothing, attractiveness, and physical attributes. On the other hand, women were depicted in accordance with traditional gender stereotypes, focusing on their physical appearance, attractiveness, and conformity to societal beauty standards. Similarly, in “StudySmarter” men were predominantly described in terms of their occupations and external appearance, with relatively less emphasis on their physical attributes. However, gender stereotypes were still evident in the portrayal of men. In terms of gender-neutral language, the study found that its usage was limited within learning apps. The students reported difficulties in identifying consistent instances of gender-neutral language or depiction in the apps. Furthermore, participants noticed the presence of gender-derogatory and sexist language in the learning videos. These findings underscore the need for more diverse and inclusive representations of all genders in learning apps. Efforts and future research should be directed toward improving awareness and implementation of gender-appropriate language in educational materials, as well as fostering a culture of inclusivity and respect.

Educational Application, Learning Apps, Teaching, Sexism, Stereotypes, Gender, Gender Role

Eva Schmidthaler, Matthias Schmollmüller, Pia Wimmer-Furian, Corinna Hörmann, Marina Rottenhofer, et al. (2023). Exploring Gender Stereotypes and Sexism in Learning Apps: Insights from Austrian Secondary School Students. American Journal of Applied Psychology, 12(5), 111-128.

Copyright © 2023 Authors retain the copyright of this article.
This article is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License ( which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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