Male protagonists are over-represented in children’s books

An analysis of thousands of children’s books published in last 60 years indicates that male characters continue to be over-represented compared to female characters, although an increase in the latter is now being observed.

The researcher Stella Lourenco, from Emory University (USA), and his colleagues presented these conclusions in a study published in PLoS ONE, in which i know old oneThey explore factors associated with representation.

The results of this observational study show overwhelming evidence of a bias that favors male representation over female representation in books published before 2000. However, evidence was lacking as to whether this bias persisted today. It was also unclear whether factors such as the author’s gender could influence the bias.

To help clarify whether these biases continue in children’s literature, the researchers conducted a statistical analysis the frequency of appearance of male protagonists in relation to female protagonists in 3,280 books, aimed at an audience from 0 to 16 years old and published between 1960 and 2020.

The researchers performed a statistical analysis of the frequency of appearance of male versus female protagonists in 3,280 books, aimed at an audience of zero to 16 years and published between 1960 and 2020

Then they selected titles that can be purchased. connected in the United States, in print or digital format, and written primarily in English. To allow direct comparison of male and female main character rates, the team focused on posts that featured a single central protagonist. Furthermore, it only included titles where the author’s gender was identifiable.

Increase in female protagonists

The analysis revealed that, since 1960, the proportion of female protagonists has increased and continues to grow. However, “books published since 2000 continue to have a disproportionate number of top male leads”, say the experts.

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A curious thing the researchers found is that gender bias is greater in children’s fiction with non-human characters. In contrast, nonfiction titles are more gender-inclined when the characters are human.

The study found that books by male writers have lowered their bias since the 1960s, but only those that are aimed at younger audience. Those of the authors also reduced prejudice over time. And lately, there are more female protagonists than male protagonists in older children’s books with human characters.

The authors believe the results “may help guide efforts towards more equitable representation of gender in children’s books, which can have an impact on child development and attitudes in society.”

Rights: Creative Commons.


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