Balancing the gender equation

A new study finds that children's books are dominated by male central characters, leading experts to worry that girls are getting the message that they are less important to society than their male counterparts.

The study looked at 6,000 books published between 1900 and 2000 and found that  57% of books featured central male human characters, while 23% were male animals, human female central characters were only 31% human and 7.5% animal.

Even more worrying is that of all the books that have won the prestigious Caldecott award, the US children's book prize established in 1938, only one has had a standalone female character. So not only are books featuring leading female characters not being written, they aren't being recognized when they are.

The problem is more pronounced in Africa where there are even fewer books written for children, let alone young girls. For instance, one of the most popular children's series in Nigeria, "Eze goes to school," features a rambunctious little boy as the central character.

Cassava Republic is proud that its children's books feature a wide range of young female role models for its readers. Our drive to tell women's stories once led a potential writer to ask, in an email, whether Cassava Republic publishes male authors. Though he was assured that the company does, we remain committed to addressing the literary imbalance.

For more about out children's books, visit our website at


  • I am glad to see that Cassava Republic is committed to addressing the literary imbalance. I think the emphasis placed on male characters is a reflection of the value society places on males, as opposed to females.

    Posted by The Relentless Builder on June 20, 2011

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