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I have read an article from Varoom by Chris Campe that i have mentioned before, and it has lead to me to thinking about the wide range of gender stereotypes that could have been present within my practice without my awareness. In order to evolve my practice and become an illustrator that tries my hardest to represent gender in a fair and equal way, i need to know what stereotypes are commonly noticed and lesser known ones that i could also be using without realising. I can also use this list to refer to when choosing examples for my dissertation, because i will be more informed on current and previous stereotypes that relate to both men and women, and i can assess children’s book illustrations based upon this criteria.

I came across a comprehensive list when looking online, and i was surprised at first to find it on a Health and Guidance website. But then i realized that gender stereotyping if you are exposed to it can be detrimental to your mental health and lessen your confidence. This is not what i am looking at in my essay but i am grateful to gain new knowledge on this area that i can carry forward into my practice and will influence how i create images and ideas. http://www.healthguidance.org/entry/15910/1/List-of-Gender-Stereotypes.html (04/11/2014)

Female Gender Stereotypes:

  • Women are supposed to have “clean jobs” such as secretaries, teachers, and librarians
  • Women are nurses, not doctors
  • Women are not as strong as men
  • Women are supposed to make less money than men
  • The best women are stay at home moms
  • Women don’t need to go to college
  • Women don’t play sports
  • Women are not politicians
  • Women are quieter than men and not meant to speak out
  • Women are supposed to be submissive and do as they are told
  • Women are supposed to cook and do housework
  • Women are responsible for raising children
  • Women do not have technical skills and are not good at “hands on” projects such as car repairs
  • Women are meant to be the damsel in distress; never the hero
  • Women are supposed to look pretty and be looked at
  • Women love to sing and dance
  • Women do not play video games
  • Women are flirts
  • Women are never in charge

Male Gender Stereotypes:

  • All men enjoy working on cars
  • Men are not nurses, they are doctors
  • Men do “dirty jobs” such as construction and mechanics; they are not secretaries, teachers, or cosmetologists
  • Men do not do housework and they are not responsible for taking care of children
  • Men play video games
  • Men play sports
  • Men enjoy outdoor activities such as camping, fishing, and hiking
  • Men are in charge; they are always at the top
  • As husbands, men tell their wives what to do
  • Men are lazy and/or messy
  • Men are good at math
  • It is always men who work in science, engineering, and other technical fields
  • Men do not cook, sew, or do crafts

I find it disturbing that so many stereotypes still apply in this era, because they are practically ancient and from early Victorian times, especially dictating that as husbands, men tell their wives not to do. I do hope that these are the most exaggerated forms of each stereotype and that there has been improvement over the decades in quashing these misogynistic views.

Now i have quite a full list of existing gender stereotypes, i can look for examples of children’s books that either support these or challenge these and their illustrations and choose myself 3 examples that show the differing levels of severity in gender stereotyping. The aim of this is to find where my practice can take me and what existing illustrators are doing about this issue, that i can take advice from and pay forward into my own work. I’d like to become an illustrator that promotes gender equality, especially in books for Children who form views on gender from such a young age, as soon as a girl is given her first doll and a boy given his first toy car they are forming views about the differences between men and women. As an illustrator for childrens books i would like to be able to lessen the gap between the genders and their roles, i accept the premise (although find it unreasonable) that these gender stereotypes were formed a long time ago and habits are hard to break when they are enforced so readily in everyday life, but i would like to be able to use my practice as a way to bridge the gap in childrens literature and give children more options, based on topics rather than on their gender.

I think that children’s books should be based on topic rather than gender, for example a “boys colouring book” as i have seen in shops, should not be based upon that, but instead be separated into subjects dismissive of gender e.g. “the dinosaur colouring book” or the “The space colouring book” so that children from either gender can chose it if they like it, and not be deterred by the book being titled as not for their gender. 

I will now use this comprehensive list to determine suitable examples, along with the information i have gained from my other research ; of Children’s books that :

A. Challenge gender stereotypes

B. Are in the middle ground of gender stereotyping,

C. Enforce gender stereotypes

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