Little Miss Characters Portrayed As 'Less Powerful' Than Mr Men
To look at the iconic Mr Men and Little Miss books, you could probably be forgiven for thinking that they don't really seem all that sinister. However, a detailed study of the books claims their content might be perpetuating outdated gender stereotypes.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Lincoln, found that Little Miss characters had to be 'saved' more often than their male counterparts and were often portrayed to be 'less powerful'.
Male characters in the books also say more than female characters, with an extra 12 words per book on average.
Researcher Madeleine Pownall looked at the direct speech of both the Mr Men and Little Miss characters in the books and found females were given an average of 53.5 words per story, compared with 61.5 given to males.
She also saw that as storylines progressed the female characters had to be rescued by another character in 51.5 percent of cases, in comparison to 32.6 percent of cases for Mr Men.
Even the names of the female character could be feeding into gender misconceptions, with characters such as Little Miss Bossy being flagged in particular.
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The study concluded: "Generally female characters were more passive, had less direct speech and relied on being saved more than male characters."
Meanwhile, last year saw the unveiling of a brand new Little Miss character, Little Miss Inventor, whose introduction as the latest character in the series was specifically aimed at challenging gender stereotypes.
The book blurb says "her brain is full of ideas, which she turns into extraordinary inventions in a shed at the bottom of her garden".
The book telling her story was released in March to tie in with International Women's Day and British Science Week.
Adam Hargreaves, son of Mr Men and Little Miss creator Roger Hargreaves, said: "I always enjoy creating a brand new character for the series and it was fun coming up with lots of crazy inventions for Little Miss Inventor's home and silly ones for all her friends.
"It's also been nice to write a story that promotes a positive role model and to challenge a stereotype, if only in a small way."
Featured Image Credit: Mr Men Little Miss