The Princess and the Poor Self-Image: An Analysis of Newbery Medal Winners for Gender Bias and Female Underrepresentation Leading into the Twenty-First Century

Melissa A. McCleary, Michael M. Widdersheim


This study analyzes how 12 recent (2000-2011) Newbery Medal-winning books represent gender. The study counts how many of the books’ characters represent progressive or traditional gender roles, how many male and female characters represent each character category (protagonist, antagonist, major, and minor), how many strong female characters are accepted or rejected by their peers, how many characters hold stereotypical gender beliefs about themselves or their peers, and how many works contain balanced feminist perspectives. The study finds equitable female representation, but the study also finds a bias toward traditional male stereotypes. The results indicate a general acceptance of strong female characters and a balanced representation of females, regardless of a historical fiction classification. These results suggest that characters in Newbery Medal-winning books represent gender more equally and less stereotypically compared to characters in works of earlier decades.

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Copyright (c) 2014 Melissa A. McCleary, Michael M. Widdersheim

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