TALLAHASSEE - A study of children's books shows a gender bias with male characters, including male animals, leading the fictional pack, U.S. researchers say.
Florida State University researchers say their study of 20th century children's books has found a bias toward stories that feature men and boys as lead characters, and that even when all characters are animals, they tend to be male, an FSU release said.
"We looked at a full century of books," lead author Janice McCabe, FSU professor of sociology, said. "One thing that surprised us is that females' representations did not consistently improve from 1900 to 2000; in the mid part of the century it was actually more unequal. Books became more male-dominated."
Children's books are a "dominant blueprint of shared cultural values, meanings, and expectations," the researchers said, and the disparity between male and female characters is sending children a message that "women and girls occupy a less important role in society than men or boys."
The research was published in the April issue of Gender & Society.