Washington: A new study has uncovered gender bias in children`s books with male characters, including male animals, leading the fictional pack.
The findings of Florida State University researchers are based on a study of nearly 6,000 20th century children``s books published from 1900 to 2000.
While previous studies have looked at the representation of male and female characters in children``s books, they were often limited in scope.
"We looked at a full century of books," says lead author Prof Janice McCabe, assistant professor of Sociology at Florida State University.
"One thing that surprised us is that females`` representations did not consistently improve from 1900 to 2000; in the mid part of the century it was actually more unequal. Books became more male-dominated,” she added.
Since children`s books are a "dominant blueprint of shared cultural values, meanings, and expectations," the authors say the disparity between male and female characters is sending children a message that "women and girls occupy a less important role in society than men or boys."
The study has been published in Gender and Society.