Sex role stereotypes have been investigated in text materials (Rupley, Garcia and Longnion, 1981; Scott and Feldman-Summers, 1979; Taylor, 1973) and in children's literature (Ashby and Wittmaier, 1978; DeLisi and Johns, 1984; Donlan, 1972; Key, 1971; Kropp and Halverson, 1983; Styer, 1975; Weitzman, 1972; Winkeljohann and Gallant, 1980). These studies have examined the stereotypical roles portrayed by male and female characters, in terms of the way the males and females are presented in the material. Findings indicate change in sex roles to be slow; males still tend to be viewed as active and achieving while girls are passive and emotional (Weitzman, 1972, p. 1125). According to social learning theory perspective, such stereotyped views of sex roles are incorporated into a child's repertoire of behaviors. Children selectively imitate what they perceive as culturally designated appropriate sex role behavior (Hartley, 1959; Weitzman, 1972). In support of this theory researchers have also found children exposed to material containing non-traditional roles have been influenced by the stories that they hear (Berg-Cross and Berg-Cross, 1978; Kropp and Halverson, 1983; Litcher and Johnson, 1969; Styer, 1975). In these studies, hearing socially relevant stories containing sex equitable roles, roles which reflect the changing roles for men and women, changed children's attitudes and values toward the character in the non-traditional role. If society has indeed reacted to findings such as these by exposing students to more sexequitable literature and ideas, it may mean that children to day have less sex-typed attitudes and are less likely to find such roles novel. One way of determining if this is the case would be to examine the ways in which children freely respond to such literature.
Anderson, D. D., & Many, J. E. (1992). An Analysis of Children's Responses to Storybook Characters in Non-Traditional Roles. Reading Horizons, 33 (2). Retrieved from http://scholarworks.wmich.edu/reading_horizons/vol33/iss2/1