Coloring Within the Lines: Gender Stereotypes in Contemporary Coloring Books

Abstract

Extensive research on print media for children such as storybooks reveals that gender stereotypes are prevalent; however, no systematic analysis of coloring books has been conducted since 1974. We analyzed 889 characters in 56 contemporary coloring books published in the United States and selected through stratified random sampling from one region of California, coding for prevalence of each gender, stereotypic gender roles, activity level, type, and age of character. As hypothesized, males were more active; gender stereotypes were common. Gender neutral behaviors were more likely to be done by males. Females were more likely to be depicted as children and humans; whereas males were mostly depicted as animals, adults, and superheroes. Results are discussed in terms of gender schema theory.

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Acknowledgements

Portions of this research were presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, San Francisco, CA, August 2007. The authors thank Marie Thomas and three anonymous reviewers for comments on earlier versions of this manuscript and Iliana Grigera, Marlene Armenta, Jennifer Dale, and Tara Miller for coding assistance.

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Correspondence to Maureen J. Fitzpatrick.

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Fitzpatrick, M.J., McPherson, B.J. Coloring Within the Lines: Gender Stereotypes in Contemporary Coloring Books. Sex Roles 62, 127–137 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-009-9703-8

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Keywords

  • Gender stereotypes
  • Content analysis
  • Coloring books