I’ve set up this blog because I want to start a debate about gender bias in picture books.

I believe that the scarcity of male gatekeepers in the picture book industry means that its output reflects boys’ tastes less than girls’ and that this lack of gender-balance is exacerbating the gender gap in children's reading abilities.

My argument, based on my experience as both an author and a parent, is set out in the three essays below.

scroll down further for blog posts


cool not cute: what boys really want from picture books

This two-part essay contains my main argument.

Part 1: The Uneven Playing Field argues that the lack of gender-balance among publishers, teachers, librarians and picture-book-buyers is making picture books more appealing to girls than boys.

Part 2: The Missing Ingredients lists some of the ingredients with boy-typical appeal that are missing from most picture books and suggests ways to gender-balance picture book appeal.

Click here to view/download a pdf of COOL not CUTE Click here to view/download an EXECUTIVE SUMMARY of the essay


nature and nurture: boys will be boys

This essay looks at some of the scientific evidence that suggests that BOTH nature and nurture are responsible for sex differences in children's preferences.

Click here to view/download a pdf of NATURE and NURTURE


fighters and fashionistas: the spectre of stereotyping

This essay addresses concerns about gender stereotyping which may arise from the assertion that some preferences are boy or girl-typical.

Click here to view/download a pdf of FIGHTERS and FASHIONISTAS


These three essays were revised and updated in February 2015. You can read a blog post outlining the revisions and the reasons for them here.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

The Gender Equality Paradox

This blog has now been online for 24 hours. Thanks to everyone that has sent me comments, feedback and links to relevant material including this 2010 Norwegian documentary.  I'd recommend it to anyone interested in the debate around innate sex differences and I’ve just added it to the further viewing list at the end of my NATURE and NURTURE essay. The documentary is in English and Norwegian with English subtitles.

The Global Gender Gap Report benchmarks the national gender gaps of 135 countries on economic, political, education and health-based criteria. The report includes an index ranking countries in terms of their sex equality.  The top of the index is dominated by the Nordic countries. In 2008 Norway came first, in 2012 it came third behind Iceland and Finland.

Norway’s high ranking in the index is reflected in the large number of women in professions such as politics, law and medicine. Despite this, young Norwegians’ career choices are more traditional now than they were 15 years ago. Norway has fewer women working in male-typical professions such as engineering and fewer men working in female-typical professions such as nursing than other countries with far less sex equality. This documentary explores this paradox and includes interviews with experts on both sides of the innate sex differences debate.

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