Gender Equity, Identity, and Conformity in Picture Books

By Thomas Doyle, Suzanne Evans and Susan Gilbert.

Published by The International Journal of Early Childhood Learning

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: September 28, 2015 $US5.00

This study examined picture books that challenge the traditional gender role stereotypes and that portray characters in gender non-conforming ways. The subjects for this study were Early Childhood Education (ECE) teachers enrolled in a Bachelors of Arts in ECE program at a University. Candidates have been introduced to the issues of diversity, including the issues of gender stereotyping and non-gender conforming behavior in the required preparation for the major course work. In the survey, participants first indicated 10 books they select to regularly read aloud and rationale for selection. They then selected from a list of 20 picture books that either challenge traditional gender stereotypes or depict characters who demonstrate non-conforming gender behavior and indicated whether or not they use the books and why. In the next portion of the survey, participants were asked how they learn about new picture books by ranking a list of possible responses. Finally, participants were queried as to how and where they obtain picture books by ranking a list of possible responses. The study data was analyzed and coded based on frequency with which males and females characters were represented in the stories; the use of pronouns and the frequency of gender-specific or neutral pronouns and the representation of male and female characters in the books. Research findings, a list of books that challenge gender role stereotypes and non-conforming gender behaviors, and selection criteria to use with teachers will be shared, discussed, and used.

Keywords: Gender Equity, Gender Strain, Gender Role Confusion, Picture Books, Early Childhood

The International Journal of Early Childhood Learning, Volume 21, Issue 2, October 2015, pp.15-31. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: September 28, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 405.660KB)).

Dr. Thomas Doyle

Professor, Department of Teacher Education, School of Education, National University, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Dr. Suzanne Evans

Associate Professor of Education, School of Education, Department of Special Education, National University, San Diego, CA, USA

Dr. Susan Gilbert

Associate Professor, School of Education, Teacher Education Department, Lead Faculty Early Childhood, National University, Los Angeles, CA, USA