Here’s a very interesting article by Jennie Yabroff from the Washington Post:
Why are there so few girls in children’s books?
The main characters — whether they’re human, animal, a snowplow or a crayon — are almost always male.
First, the central character in more published children’s literature is male. Like the movie biz, girls (it’s kiddie lit, remember) are necessary for some semblance of reality but they are generally not the lead character (the hero) and they are not paid as much as the boys.
Of the 69 Caldecott Medal and Honor winners since 2000, just four — “Kitten’s First Full Moon,” “Interrupting Chicken,” “Olivia” and “A Ball for Daisy” (which has no text but identifies Daisy as “she” on the jacket copy) — have animal protagonists that are clearly identified as female. Recent bestseller lists are topped by books starring crayons, fish and a snowplow: all male or non-gendered. Lists from Scholastic and Time magazine of the best 100 picture books include fewer than 10 female non-human characters. If these books reflected reality, we wouldn’t have to wonder why the dinosaurs went extinct — there were no females around for them to reproduce with.