The Most Dubious Gender Ratio In Children’s Stories

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.

Geronimo Stilton_600x439

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 girls in Geronimo Stilton love frivolous things like shopping.
The girls in Geronimo Stilton love frivolous things like shopping.

See Also

The Smurfette Principle the Wikipedia explanation

The Minority Feisty from Reel Girl

The Female Maturity Formula In Modern Storytelling

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

Boys read for pleasure as much as girls

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.

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