The Importance of Children's Literature: Combating Children's Understanding of Gender Bias Roles/Biases Informed from Media
As a female, I often try to step back and reflect on what it means to be a woman. Is it my dress, my sexuality, my work? Is it all of the above? For me, being a woman means making sacrifices. For many American women, including myself, sacrifice includes an expectation to make choices such as achieving certain careers over starting a family, or beginning a family over moving up in a career. This to me is the defining difference between being a man and being a woman. Women can never be both in America or internationally.
When did I begin to experience biases against my gender? I decided to break into the minds of kids today to see if they are beginning to notice or feel any pressures to choose a certain way because of gender biases. If so, where are they acquiring these biases? The answer lies in different forms of media. Specifically, television, advertisement and interpersonal relationships. I questioned how/if children’s literature has any part in children forming opinions about gender. In my experience, children’s literature provided me a space free of biases.
From here I decided to create my own story, my own children’s book. My book was a direct response to the feedback I received from the students I interviewed. I hope you will notice the correlation when reading. The kids had very diverse ideas and interests, with different rationale as to why they wanted to be whatever it is they chose. Ultimately, I determined they are experiencing information about gender from media at ages as young as three years. However, I believe children’s literature can allow children to escape these biases. Penelope is my attempt at combating against gender biases.
Ashley Plassard ‘18
Advisor: Marina Mangubi
All images copyright © 2018 Ashley Plassard. All rights reserved.