Peter Rabbit, Winnie the Pooh, Fantastic Mr Fox... names that many of us will remember with a fond smile. But beneath the cute, cuddly exterior these characters have been undermining gender equality... at least, that's what the latest research suggests.
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Sociologists from Florida State University analysed 6,000 best-selling children's books and found that 57 per cent featured a male lead character, outnumbering the heroines of which there were only 31 per cent.
And researchers say that the likes of Tigger and Toad are so prevalent that the Cinderellas and Dorothy Gales of children's literature just can't compete.
The study found that the lean towards male characters has worsened since the turn of the 20th century - these days Harry Potter and Alex Rider are the characters dominating the literary world.
This scandalous discovery, say researchers, indicates that the world of children's writing is "inherently sexist".
Lead researcher Janice McCabe, explained: "Books contribute to how children understand what is expected of women and men, and shape the way children will think about their own place in the world.
"The persistent pattern of disparity among animal characters may reveal a subtle kind of symbolic annihilation of women disguised through animal imagery."
And we thought Winnie the Pooh was an innocent old soul!
What do you think? Is children's literature 'inherently sexist'? Leave your comments below...