Centre professors' latest research catches attention of local National Public Radio affiliate
RELEASED: March 8, 2007
DANVILLE, KY—Two Centre College professors spent the past six years reading and analyzing 200 children's books to discover a disturbing trend: gender bias still exists in much of modern children's literature. This week that research and their hard work were featured on WEKU, the NPR affiliate in Richmond. The research was also the foundation for an in-depth article published by the Kalamazoo Gazette, the local newspaper in Kalamazoo, Mich.
Hamilton and Anderson studied 200 top-selling children's books from 2001 and a seven-year sample of Caldecott award-winning books. Through their research, Hamilton and Anderson discovered a number of examples of gender bias:
"Modern children's picture books continue to provide nightly reinforcement of the idea that boys and men are more interesting and important than are girls and women," Anderson says.
Hamilton says that gender stereotyping and under-representation of girls and women have been documented in children's picture books in the past. She and Anderson had hoped that this would be diminished in current books but found this was not the case.
"A comparison of our book sample to 1980s and 1990s books did not reveal reduced sexism," she says. "This bias that continues to exist contributes negatively to children's development, limits their career aspirations, shapes their attitudes about their future roles as parents and even influences their personality characteristics."
Anderson says parents need to use caution when deciding what books to provide for their children.
"An under-representation of female characters is true not just for prize-winning books, but also for other books that today's children and parents are likely to purchase," he says. In their sample of 200 popular books, more than twice as many had more male title characters than female (75 versus 32) and more male main characters than female (95 versus 52).
Hamilton and Anderson have also co-authored the study, "Gender Role Stereotyping of Parents in Children's Picture Books: The Invisible Father."
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