Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis open access



First Advisor

Benjamin Sosnaud

Second Advisor

David Spener

Third Advisor

Jen Sugars


Prior research on representations of gender and gender roles in twentieth century award winning children’s picture books has found notable disparities in representation of male and female characters as well as in the number of roles and behaviors that were prescribed to characters. My research seeks to build on prior literature by providing a twenty first century update. I explore a sample of 100 children’s picture books and analyze the following: numerical representation of gender, number of speaking lines given to characters, number of pages characters were shown on and lastly, the number of behaviors that were prescribed to characters. I find that representation of male and female characters as a whole has changed little since prior research was done however, representation in number of pages shown on and speaking lines given has become more even as male and female characters had very similar averages for both. Additionally, most behaviors prescribed to male and female characters remain consistent by gender, meaning that male characters were given stereotypical male traits while female characters were given more stereotypical female traits. Complexity in behaviors is also discussed as male characters were provided opportunities to show a more complex set of behaviors. Though representation in books has change in some aspects there is work still to be done as books are powerful in shaping what children think about what gender is and what it means.