Human element in the illustrations of the physics textbooks - a basis for identification. Vjera Lopac , Faculty of Chemical Engineering and Technology, University of Zagreb, Croatia Andjelka Tonejc and Planinka Pećina, Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb, Croatia. .
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Human element in the illustrations of the physics textbooks - a basis for identification
Faculty of Chemical Engineering and Technology, University of Zagreb, Croatia
Andjelka Tonejc and Planinka Pećina,
Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb, Croatia
Only parts of the human
figure (face, head, hands, eye) are visible, and also here the gender is indiscernible.
Human activities are often shown within the traditional role assignment, but this is not so conspicuous in physics as is in some other fields of science, because of the generally very small number of female figures in textbooks.
It was for us a shocking discovery how little illustrations in the sections on electricity and magnetism contain human figures. Practically all of them are unattractive schematic diagrams.
The textbooks should depict the everyday situations with electricity and magnetism, including both men and women.
It has been suggested that girls show less ability in the field of electricity. But it is obvious from our investigation that nothing has ever been done to make these subjects more attractive for girls. Authors have forgotten that for girls this subject is totally new, since in most families the solving of practical problems with electricity is usually left to fathers and sons.
Another issue are the portraits
of physicists. They add to the human
dimension of the textbook and stress
the fact that physics, although
highly technical and specialized,
is at the same time
an important and
part of the
A. Volta and NapoleonI
But most of famous
physicists were men! This should be discussed in the physics class to stress the fact that in the past centuries women have not been allowed into higher education.
In the following, we analyze statistically the illustrations containing human figures in several physics textbooks, denoted shortly as: Beiser, Giancoli, Kulišić, Paar, Halliday and Serway.
 T.R.Brown, T.F.Slater and J.P.Adams: Gender Differences with Batteries and Bulbs, Phys. Teacher 36, 526 (1998);
 E.Potter and S.Rosser: Factor in Life Sciences textbooks that may deter girls’ interest in science, J.Res.Sci.Teach. 29, 669(1992)
 A.Beiser: Modern Technical Physics, The Benjamin/Cummings Publ. Comp. 1978;
 D.C.Giancoli: Physics - Principles with applications, Prentice Hall 1998;
 Ž. Jakopović, P.Kulišić and V.Lopac: Fizika 1,2,3,4 (for profe-ssional high schools, in Croatian), Školska knjiga, Zagreb 1995;
 V.Paar: Fizika 7,8 (for elementary schools, in Croatian, textbook and exercise book), Školska knjiga, Zagreb 1999;
 Halliday, Resnick and Krane: Modern University Physics, 1993;  R.A.Serway and J.S.Faughn: College Physics, Saunders College Publ. 1999.
In the illustrations containing human
figures, the number
of women is between
5% and 29%. Surprisingly, there are many illustrations
where the gender can not be distinguished
6% and 70%).
In the books
of portraits of
0% and 10%.
In the field of
and modern physics,
the number of
5% and 33%
of all illustrations
with human figures.
in chapters on
light and modern
30% to 100%
of all portraits.
In the textbook “Počela fizike”
(Principles of physics) by
O. Kučera, published in Zagreb in 1912, there is an illustration containing a human profile of indiscernible gender.