Stats Regarding Gender Representation in Literature


Gender in Twentieth-Century Children’s Books


Compared to females, males are represented nearly twice as often in titles and 1.6 times as often as central characters. By no measure in any book series (i.e., Caldecott award winners, Little Golden Books, and books listed in the Children’s Catalog) are females represented more frequently than males. We argue that these disparities are evidence of symbolic annihilation and have implications for children’s understandings of gender.

Lady Woolthief’s Take:

Lady Woolthief is a woman of many hats (pun definitely intended), and she’s about to put on an important new one: Auntie. All of the wonderful things she will share with her nieces or nephews (that’s right, more than one) immediately flood Lady Woolthief’s mind. Tea time, Pink Stuff (yum!), costumes, hats! And books, so many books! But as the article linked above points out, Lady Woolthief’s beloved books and other forms of media play a profound role in diminishing the confidence of young girls.

Imagine you’re a child, soaking up the world around you like a dry sponge thirsty for knowledge. You read about all the limitless adventures boys can have. The males in your stories are fascinating and flawed. Some are intelligent and others hilarious. Some are athletes and others favor art. They reach audiences far and wide. On the other hand, we have wonderful diverse females like Pippy Longstocking, Bloody Jack, and Elena of Avalor, but stories with strong female protagonists are harder to find, and most books led by males are devoid of supporting female characters altogether. You start to wonder, before you’re even old enough to write, if boys aren’t just better than girls.



Things need to change. Lady Woolthief wants her potential nieces to boast their achievements and fight hard to make their worlds better, not wait around for someone else to get the job done. She wants her potential nephews to know the power of female ambition and to value their partnership. But change doesn’t just happen. Consumers should vote with their dollars and show the publishers and producers of these stories that they want stronger female presence in entertainment as well as a stronger female presence in the workforce and leadership. Lady Woolthief has started her very own Girl Empowered Media Collection, and whether the new lambs are boys or girls, they will know that girls can do anything they put their minds to.

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