You may or may not know that 100% of children's books with animal characters have male characters while only 31% have female characters (see here). It doesn't stop at animals. Consider the following statistics (source):
- 57% of children's books published each year have male protagonists, versus 31% female.
- As with television and film, books with animated characters are a particularly subtle and insidious way to marginalize based on sex, gender and race. In popular children's books featuring animated animals, 100% of them have male characters, but only 33% have female characters.
- The average number of books featuring male characters in the title of the book is 36.5% versus 17.5% for female characters.
Researchers claim (and I agree) that this teaches children that girls and women are less important than boys and men, that their stories are not universal, and that they're stories are fringe or special.
Consider that this weekend I walked into the Kalamazoo Air Zoo with my wife, toddler son, and aunt-in-law. The docent asked us informed us about one section "I think you would really like" -- women in aviation. Of course I'm pleased they don't feature just male pilots or just white male pilots (there was also an exhibit on the Tuskegee air men), but pissed we were supposed to like it because it was about women because we're women? Women or black male pilots stay special when we act like they're only for women or black male pilots; but that's who the exhibit is about. I didn't stick around to see if she suggested that to groups of dads and sons, but I doubt she did. I also realize that we're not at the point where we can act like female pilots and black pilots weren't special, historically since they were battling more than the rigorous training programs, but come on? Do they have to be in a separate room -- only. The only is what really gets me.
I take this into my own hands at home and destroy the authorial intent in children's books by changing the gendered pronouns or names of the main character. We have at least a handful of books where gender is only indicated in one or two places, but it's always male.