Gender Roles in Children's Books

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GENDER REPRESENTATION AND STEREOTYPING IN 7 for the years pre-1970 presented male to female ratios of 4.0:1 in titles, 2.6:1 in central roles, and 1.6:1 in pictures (Kortenhaus & Demarest, 1993). The Caldecott books for the years post-1970 had more equal ratios of 1.2:1 for titles, 1.2:1 for central roles, and 1.1:1 in pictures. The non-award books showed similar ratios. This is a significant decrease from the male to female ratios in Weitzman’s study of Caldecott books in 1972. This study resulted in 8.0:1 ratio in titles, 3.5:1 ratio in central roles, and a 7.6:1 ratio in pictures (Kortenhaus & Demarest, 1993).
Although equality has been reached in male to female ratios, the types of roles in which male and female characters play still
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Children’s literature is not an accurate reflection of the developing roles of females in America (Kortenhaus and Demarest, 1993). In Hamilton’s study of 155 best-selling non-award books in 1999 to 2001, nine best- selling award books, and thirty 1995 to 2001 Caldecott books, the results in titles showed a 1.8:1 male to female ratio, 1.8:1 in main characters, and 1.5:1 in pictures. The study also proved that female authors did not publish more books with more male than female main characters (Hamilton et al., 2006). In Gooden’s study of 83 Notable Books for Children over the years 1995 to 1999, the results showed a 1:1 male to female ratio of the main character, a 1.2:1 ratio in pictures, and the titles actually had 19 females to 18 males in them. The study also showed that women were depicted in non-traditional roles such as chefs and doctors. Males were still not observed grocery shopping or caring for the children (Gooden & Gooden, 2001). According to these results, male to female ratios have decreased to equity numbers in pictures, titles, and main characters.
Even though these studies are informative, the books reviewed do not accurately portray the popular reading list that is directed toward children at home and in libraries. The selection of the Caldecott books may have also been based on the fact that the books do stray from the female gender bias. The books make