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Sex Roles

, Volume 75, Issue 9–10, pp 422–433 | Cite as

Where Are All the Pippis?: The Under-representation of Female Main and Title Characters in Children’s Literature in the Swedish Preschool

  • Lisa Lynch
Original Article

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Children’s literature Female under-representation Gender equality Preschool education 

Notes

Compliance with Ethical Standards

This research is in compliance with the ethical standards as presented in Springer’s instructions for authors and the Swedish Research Council in Stockholm (http://www.codex.vr.se/texts/HSFR.pdf).

All participants consented to the study, as well as the writing of the manuscript for publication.

Conflict of Interest

There are no potential conflicts of interest involved in the study and no funding has been received for the research.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LundSweden

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