Sex Roles

, Volume 52, Issue 3–4, pp 145–151 | Cite as

Gender Role Stereotyping of Parents in Children’s Picture Books: The Invisible Father

  • David A. Anderson
  • Mykol HamiltonEmail author


Previous studies reveal the reinforcement of gender stereotypes by picture books children read during the formative years. In these books, boys tend to be portrayed as active leaders, and girls as passive followers. Women and girls are under-represented. Men often exhibit career skills, and women perform traditional tasks in the home. Even when careers are nontraditional, personality characteristics and other qualities and behaviors are often stereotypical. Previous researchers emphasized the narrowly defined roles of women and children in picture books. In this study, we focused on the representation of mothers and fathers, and examined whether men are stereotyped as relatively absent or inept parents. A content analysis of the gender roles exhibited in 200 prominent children’s picture books demonstrated that fathers are largely under-represented, and, when they do appear, they are withdrawn and ineffectual parents. Further research could establish whether seriously deficient models of fatherhood in children’s literature affect the incidence of present, caring fathers in society.


gender stereotypes parents children’s literature. 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.EconomicsCentre CollegeDanville
  2. 2.PsychologyCentre CollegeDanville
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyCentre CollegeDanville

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