Ferguson’s article on gender bias in the children’s literature genre offers two contents, each supporting the other. She begins by conveying a large range of statistics derived from an in-depth analysis of 100 titles from 2017, conducted by the Guardian and the Nielson market research firm. In a word, male characters, good and villainous, dominate. Villains are eight times more likely to be male rather than female, and: “Lead characters were 50% more likely to be male than female” (Ferguson).
This then leads to discussion as to the factors involved, such as how the disparities reflect social norms in general, which is further supported by how the female characters are typically secondary and passive. Ferguson then cites thinking from writers and a leader in a movement to oppose gender stereotyping, all of which expresses the need for change. The article conclude with more evidence of how various gender stereotypes are maintained in the books, such as female characters as more nurturing than the males.
Personally, I most admire the article’s objectivity. The author never challenges publishers as deliberately reinforcing sexism, as she also refers to successful titles that are not biased. Most interesting, in fact, is a critical point is made by a publisher in the genre: “New titles do feature strong female characters but unfortunately did not make the bestseller list” (Ferguson). Assuming the statement is accurate, the implication seems clear: a cycle is in place in which the public reinforces the gender bias through the choices it makes.
Equally relevant to this is a noted behaviour, in that parents frequently purchase book known from their own childhoods. Given the relatively recent interest in sexism, then, it is reasonable to conclude that such parents are emphasising the stereotypes in this way, as well. Balanced and informative, then, the article essentially supports the relationship between society and publishing, and how this perpetuates gender bias even in children’s books.