Synergy Award

A diagnostic tool to examine gender and ethnic representation in schoolbooks

Winners of the Synergy Award 2020: Tessa van de Rozenberg and Daudi van Veen

At the Synergy 2020 event, the Synergy Award was handed out to PhD students with the best idea to impact society. Winners Tessa van de Rozenberg and Daudi van Veen (Leiden University) want to develop a diagnostic tool for publishers to examine gender and ethnic representation in schoolbooks.

At the Synergy 2020 event, the Synergy Award was handed out to PhD students with the best idea to impact society. Winners Tessa van de Rozenberg and Daudi van Veen (Leiden University) want to develop a diagnostic tool for publishers to examine gender and ethnic representation in schoolbooks.

‘Research shows that messages in schoolbooks regarding gender and ethnicity influence children’s ideas on gender and ethnicity,’ says Van Veen. ‘We have developed a coding system to closely examine how people in schoolbooks are represented in texts and pictures: for instance, what kind of job they have and what they are doing. This allows publishers to discover stereotypical patterns in their books and, subsequently, to change them.’

Impact on society

The coding system is very thorough and requires intensive training. Van de Rozenberg and Van Veen therefore propose to develop a ‘diagnostic tool’ – a simplified user guide of the coding system – that publishers can use to examine their schoolbooks. ‘For instance, women in schoolbooks are more likely to be represented without a job,’ says Van de Rozenberg. ‘This is something that you might not notice as a publisher but that can have a real effect on children and is not very difficult to change.’

Van de Rozenberg and Van Veen are one of ten teams that received pitch training. From the ten teams, four finalists were selected to receive additional training in presentation, as well as practical tips to realise their ideas. ‘I highly recommend for everyone to apply for this award,’ says Van de Rozenberg. ‘It is very motivating to meet other researchers that are interested in having a real impact on society.’

The Synergy Award

The NWO-SSH Synergy Award is a competition for PhD students that provides them with opportunities to learn and exchange with professionals. PhD students are challenged to come up with exciting ideas to impact society that stem from their PhD work. A selection of candidates then get the opportunity to follow a pitch training and improve their idea in interactive sessions during the Synergy conference. The winner receives 2,500 euros to realise the idea.

Video

Learn more about the proposals of the four finalists of the Synergy Award – Tessa Kaufman (University of Groningen), Femke de Kievit (Utrecht University), Imme Lammertink (University of Amsterdam), and Tessa van de Rozenberg and Daudi van Veen (Leiden University) – in this video