A comparative study of earlier and contemporary children’s books: Are female and male characters represented equally?

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers

Abstract

Children’s books, an important agent for the transmission of social values, play a vital part in shaping children’s gender perceptions and expectations. Misconceptions about gender roles can be cultivated through unconscious imitation of stereotypes demonstrated by characters and exposure to authors’ use of gender-biased language, which may be translated into children’s behaviour, study choices and occupational aspirations. However, how male and female characters are represented is often overlooked by parents and educators in their selection of reading materials for children. The aim of this study is to reveal any gender disparities that may be reinforced and perpetuated through popular readers commonly found in Hong Kong schools and libraries. Manual analyses were supplemented with computational investigations to enhance reliability in the examination of various variables, including male and female appearances, familial roles, order of presentation, gender-inclusive/exclusive language, among others. A comparison of earlier and contemporary readers was made to examine whether gender representation in children’s literature has improved over the years in response to the improvements in the status of women in many parts of the world. It is hoped that the study can help enhance gender awareness among teachers and parents so that they can identify any inequitable gender differences in children’s books, and take steps towards helping children to develop critical literacy to ‘subvert’ gender imbalances and creating a more equal society. Copyright © 2020 International Conference on Gender, Language and Education.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

Citation

Lee, J. F. K., & Chin, C. O. A. (2020, December). A comparative study of earlier and contemporary children’s books: Are female and male characters represented equally? Paper presented at International Conference on Gender, Language and Education (ICGLE), The Education University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.

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