Do Book Illustrations Have Gender?

I took a gentle wander through some recent photographs looking for one to post here today. It hit me that even photographs seem to have a gender bias. One folder of lovely wisteria against salmon coloured walls looked far more feminine than other folders of photographs. The observation surprised me, and set me thinking about gender bias in books.

I see this photograph as being feminine, yet the photograph could well have been taken by a man. Is it the colours that make me think this?

blog wisteria

When I took the photo I was looking at colour, depth of field, composition, but not thinking gender at all. Am I influenced by the feminine gender words bella vista, bella panorama, perhaps? Would I see it as less feminine if I had composed it differently, and thought of it as a great view?

I looked for another photo from that day. Is this one more masculine? It’s certainly of a great view.

blog wisteria b

I ponder this because, as I choose colours for my illustrations, I think it is something I need to be aware of. My drawings and paintings will match the stories that I write, but will there be an inherent gender bias in my choice of colours? Is that something I should consider, or doesn’t it matter at all?

I was an avid reader as a child and devoured the Biggles series of books as much as I did the Katy series. Did these books have a gender-specific target audience? If they did, I certainly ignored it and read every word with equal pleasure.

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