Are females and males equitably represented? A study of early readers

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Early readers can play a significant role in the intergenerational transmission of gender roles. The present study examines how females and males are represented in selected early readers recommended by the Education Bureau of Hong Kong for the promotion of 'Reading to Learn' and 'Reading across the Curriculum'. The study used both manual and computational methods to examine how experiential and relational values are expressed through variables such as the ratio of female-to-male character types, the roles and activities depicted, character identification and the order of mention of males and females. The findings show that although the number of female human character types was similar to that of their male counterparts, there were substantially more male than female animal character types. The study also reveals gender stereotypes including confining females to a limited range of traditional roles and activities, addressing females more informally than males, and a stronger tendency to identify females by their relationships with others. The paper ends with some recommendations for education authorities, teachers and parents on how to help children interpret gender and redress unfair practices. Copyright © 2018 Published by Elsevier Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-61
JournalLinguistics and Education
Early online dateJan 2019
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019


Lee, J. F. K., & Chin, A. C. O. (2019). Are females and males equitably represented? A study of early readers. Linguistics and Education, 49, 52-61. doi: 10.1016/j.linged.2018.12.003


  • Children's books
  • Education authorities
  • Equality
  • Gender
  • Hong Kong
  • Readers


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