Female under-representation in children’s literature is a recurring topic of exploration in gender research. The present content analysis examines the literature to which children are being exposed in six preschools in southern Sweden, focusing on the prevalence of female versus male main and title characters in the literature that both children and teachers are choosing to read in group story times. Chi-square tests of the data (618 times that books were read in class) reveal a significant under-representation of female main and title characters in the books being read. A correlation is also found between the gender of the child and the gender of the main and title characters of the books that children choose to read. These results are consistent with previous research from other countries. Despite Sweden being hailed as one of the most gender equal countries in the world and gender equality being one of the core values of the Swedish preschool curriculum, stories about the lives of girls are significantly under-represented. The results have important implications for children and those who work with them. Literature can influence identity formation because it provides insights into society’s values as well as the gendered social world. The under-representation of females in cultural products reinforces the idea that girls and their stories are less important than boys and their stories.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: May 20, 2016
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