"She" is catching up to "he" when it comes to books.
A new study has found that the gap between masculine and feminine pronouns in books has closed dramatically in the past few decades, the Associated Press reports
Three university researchers pored through nearly 1.2 million texts published from 1900 to 2008 to track the frequency of gender pronouns.
They found that the ratio of male to female pronouns was about 3.5:1 until 1950. Male pronoun use increased from that point, peaking in the mid-1960s at around 4.5:1, an effect that's attributed to the larger number of women who stayed home after the Second World War. But by the time 1975 rolled around, the gap had shrunk back down to 3:1 and has continued to contract. In 2005, the ratio was 2:1.
"These trends in language quantify one of the largest, and most rapid, cultural changes ever observed: The incredible increase in women's status since the late 1960s in the U.S.," Jean M. Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University and author of the book Generation Me
, said in a statement.
Fellow psychology professor James W. Pennebaker, who wrote The Secret Life of Pronouns
, said that "pronouns are a sign of people paying attention, and as women become more present in the workforce, in the media and life in general, people are referring to them more."
From scholarly releases to popular fiction, books by and about women have proliferated in the past half-century. Nine of the top 10 books on USA Today's current bestseller list were written by women and publishers have long believed that more women than men buy books. According to the market research company Simba Information, around 60 per cent of those purchasing books are women.
- With files from the Associated Press