Although gender-role stereotyping in children’s books is a consistent focus of research, the study of the gender role stereotyping of parenting in particular is less common, despite a developing academic interest in the changing social meanings of fathering and mothering in contemporary societies. Previous analysis has suggested that fathers are under-represented in children’s books and when present, are less likely than mothers to be featured expressing affection towards, or caring for, children. This paper reports the results of a content analysis of a sample of best-selling young children’s picturebooks in the UK which feature representations of parents. It was predicted that fathers would feature less often, particularly at home, and be less likely to be depicted sharing physical contact with other family members, involved in domestic chores or childcare activity, or expressing emotion. The results upheld a number of the hypotheses, indicating that fathers remain ‘invisible’ in an important sense. However scenes featuring fathers with children, some forms of physical contact, or caring for children were not significantly less likely to feature in these picturebooks than equivalent scenes featuring mothers; perhaps reflecting a more progressive portrayal of ‘involved’ fatherhood. The findings are discussed in terms of their methodological, social, and political implications.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: May 31, 2011
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