A Study of Sex Stereotyping in Characters Created By Fifth and Sixth Grade Young Authors in Their Stories

Date of Graduation

Fall 1983


Master of Science in Education in Elementary Education


Childhood Education and Family Studies

Committee Chair

Andree Bayliss


The purpose of this investigation was to develop and implement an instrument to analyze stories written by children to determine if sex-stereotyped roles were apparent in the main characters they created. The Analysis of Character Traits (ACT) was developed utilizing selected criteria identified in studies in which adults' stories for children were analyzed for sex stereotyping. A sample of 84 books were selected from the prose manuscripts submitted to the 1983 Young Authors' Conference sponsored by Southwest Missouri State University and the Springfield Chapter of the International Reading Association. This represented all the stories written by fifth and sixth grade authors that had human characters with male or female identity. Three research hypotheses were tested using the Chi square test of independence to determine if there was a significant relationship between the presence of stereotyping in main characters and the sex of the authors. Additional descriptive data from the ACT were also analyzed. The following conclusions were made: (1) Male and female authors tended to create both stereotyped and non-stereotyped characters almost exclusively of their own sex; (2) Sex stereotyping occurred in the characters created by both male and female authors to the same extent; and (3) Differences in the profiles of male and female characters revealed that the most highly exhibited traits for male characters were assertiveness, persistence, independence, and intelligence. The most highly exhibited traits for female characters included being expressive of inner emotions and acting affectionate, sensitive, and loving to others.

Subject Categories

Elementary Education and Teaching


© Dorothy Larson Tuck