A Moral- and Event- Centric Inspection of Gender Bias in Fairy Tales at A Large Scale

by   Zhixuan Zhou, et al.

Fairy tales are a common resource for young children to learn a language or understand how a society works. However, gender bias, e.g., stereotypical gender roles, in this literature may cause harm and skew children's world view. Instead of decades of qualitative and manual analysis of gender bias in fairy tales, we computationally analyze gender bias in a fairy tale dataset containing 624 fairy tales from 7 different cultures. We specifically examine gender difference in terms of moral foundations, which are measures of human morality, and events, which reveal human activities associated with each character. We find that the number of male characters is two times that of female characters, showing a disproportionate gender representation. Our analysis further reveal stereotypical portrayals of both male and female characters in terms of moral foundations and events. Female characters turn out more associated with care-, loyalty- and sanctity- related moral words, while male characters are more associated with fairness- and authority- related moral words. Female characters' events are often about emotion (e.g., weep), appearance (e.g., comb), household (e.g., bake), etc.; while male characters' events are more about profession (e.g., hunt), violence (e.g., destroy), justice (e.g., judge), etc. Gender bias in terms of moral foundations shows an obvious difference across cultures. For example, female characters are more associated with care and sanctity in high uncertainty-avoidance cultures which are less open to changes and unpredictability. Based on the results, we propose implications for children's literature and early literacy research.


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