Are there signs of change in gendered language use in children’s early reading vocabulary?
Keywords:gender, language, social development, gender schema, gender roles
In this study we investigate the relative frequencies of female and male terms in early reading material for children using the Children’s Printed Word Database as a resource. As roles of females and males have changed over time it is of interest to see if there has been a corresponding change in representations of females and males in children’s books. We carried out analyses regarding different words related to gender. Except for nouns referring to relatives, we found in all word groups a preponderance of male terms. The imbalance of male and female pronouns is equivalent to that reported by Carroll, Davies, and Richman (1971) in a frequency count of printed words in children’s book in the USA conducted some 40 years ago. The results are discussed in terms of gender inequality in reading materials and the development of social mores and stereotypical ideas.
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