If you’re buying a book for a child and you have no idea what to get, and no time to read children’s books yourself, there is a rule of thumb to keep in mind.
If you find the story features one female and three main male characters
AND the female is described in relation to the main male
AND she has extra eyelashes/a pink female signifier…
You can guarantee this is a sexist story.
The Smurfette Principle the Wikipedia explanation
The Minority Feisty from Reel Girl
Will Boys Watch Stories About Girls? from Blue Milk, which is about film, but could equally be about literature
Children’s Books And Segregation from The Society Pages
Stories Are Genderless from Foz Meadows
The three to one ratio is typical across all of children’s literature, in case you are thinking Geronimo Stilton is a standout example. This podcast from The Book Show on ABC, features Janice McCabe,
Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Florida, talking about her study on Gender in Twentieth-Century Children’s Books. McCabe found that Little Golden Books, for which new stories were published between 1942 and 1993, depict an especially small proportion of female characters: 3.2 males for every 1 female.