Gender Representation and Stereotyping in Children’s Books Introduction:
This paper focuses on how society’s perception of male and female roles affects children’s literature in America and how these roles have changed slightly in the years from 1970 to the present time. Recent research on gender stereotyping in children’s literature books will be discussed. As the role of women and men changed throughout the years, so has the portrayal of characters in children’s books. Since 1970, more women entered the workforce and became more successful in their jobs outside of the home. They became bolder in proclaiming their equality with men. As a result, children’s books became a focus of controversy and gradually began reflecting this new function in gender equality. Although society’s views toward women and men have changed, the illustrations, use of language and the female or male representation in titles of children’s books has not correlated with the advancement of gender equality in America.
Main Body of the Paper:
A central focus in today’s society in regard to children’s picture books is gender stereotyping. The gender bias has an impact on how children perceive what is socially acceptable (Hamilton, Anderson, Broaddus, & Young, 2006). At about age 3, children begin to realize that there is a difference between themselves and the opposite sex. By age 5, they have created stereotypes associated with gender (Turner-Bowker, 1996). At this age, children also begin to separate themselves and form their self-identity (Gooden & Gooden, 2001). These stereotypes affect the way young children view appropriate roles and behavior. According to Beal, “gender is
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both culturally and individually constructed” (as cited in Turner-Bowker, 1996, p. 462). Society and beliefs shape the developments of gender role identity in children (Turner-Bowker, 1996). Research has shown that gendered literature teaches standards of femininity and masculinity. According to Weitzman, Eifler, Hokada, and Ross these standards can lead girls to believe they are less worthy than boys (as cited in Hamilton et al., 2006). Because books are a main source of interaction for young children, Fried states that in order to make advancement in the equality of women in children’s literature, sexism must be reduced (as cited in Gooden & Gooden, 2011).
Perception of gender roles in society is reflected in the pictures and writings of children’s books. Most literature portrays the normal male as dominant, white, and heterosexual, due to the social hierarchy as depicted in society (Turner-Bowker, 1996). White women follow males in the hierarchy standard as a result of their lack of power and control in society. These depictions have gradually changed as women are observed in non-traditional jobs outside the home (Turner-Bowker, 1996). Before 1970, the stereotypical role of women was to stay at home, cook, clean, and care for the children. As more women...