The Gender Ratio In Popular Fiction Is Worse Than You Think

I've got some bad news, folks. The gender ratio in popular fiction is worse than you think it is. You've been so caught up with the girl power of Katniss, Daenerys, and Hillary that you forgot the pervasive gender bias we're still dealing with. Don't feel bad, because I did, too.

Even though Hermione was and remains our champion, we sort of forgot about the fact that nearly two thirds of Harry Potter characters are male. You read that correctly. Go ahead and think of all the female Harry Potter characters you can. Don't worry, I'll wait. Just let me know when you get down to "that squib lady who babysat Harry."

It just comes as quite a shock to realize that Harry Potter — the franchise that gave us Minerva McGonagall and Hermione Granger — wasn't really the bastion of feminist kidlit we all thought it was. 

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Icelandic design team Sirrý & Smári analyzed the gender ratio in popular fiction franchises, including Harry Potter, The Hobbit, and Game of Thrones. They found that women and girls made up 30 percent of these series' casts, on average. Many featured far fewer female characters. Only Inside Out had more female characters than male.

Whew. That's a lot to take in.

Checking out Sirrý & Smári's Game of Thrones stats, it seems Daenerys might have been on to something when she said, "All men must die, but we are not men." Male characters make up about two thirds of Game of Thrones' cast, and three quarters of its deaths. That doesn't mean the show isn't problematic in its treatment of women, obviously, but its nice to know that George R.R. Martin's man-heavy population might even itself out eventually.

Star Wars brings up another interesting point. Lots of outraged fanboys have taken to the Internet to protest the franchise's back-to-back female protagonists: Rey in Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens and the as yet unnamed rebel spy in Star Wars: Rogue One.

However, analysis of the first and second trilogies reveals that women and girls make up less than 20 percent of the pre-Disney films' casts. A whopping 75 percent of Star Wars films follow male heroes — and that number swells to 86 percent if you don't include Rogue One.

Whip out those stats the next time someone tries to tell you that the heroine "trend" needs to die.

Did Sirrý & Smári's infographic surprise you? Let's talk about the gender ratio in popular fiction on Twitter.

Images: HBO;  Sirry' & Clover

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