Only Men Like History?

January 13, 2009
Interesting how many womens magazines are obsessed with weight - heres one. (Image credit jaimelondonboys photostream.))

Womens interest magazines (Image credit jaimelondonboy's photostream.)

During winter break I saw something interesting at a well-known bookstore in my town. I take my kids there a lot, and we do homework or just read together. A few weeks ago I was looking for history magazines, and I couldn’t find them. Well, it turned out that the bookstore put them in the “Men’s Interest” section. I was really upset by this, since women are interested in history, too. Out of curiosity I looked in the “Women’s Interest” section, and of course they had your basic stereotypical magazines targeted at women, like Cosmo, Parents, and Good Housekeeping.

Photo from Michael S Galperts photostream. This image is protected under a Creative Commons license.

Men's interest magazines (Image credit Michael S. Galpert's photostream.)

I was fuming over the gender-based assumptions, but I didn’t do anything about it while I was there. Now, however, I refuse to go back to the bookstore chain, and I got a membership to one of their competitors. I probably should call their corporate headquarters to let them know about this, but they must be aware of how their magazines are categorized because it’s like that at all their locations here in San Antonio, Texas.

It’s amazing to me that there are still people with these gender-stereotyping mentalities. Like science, technology, engineering, and math, the field of history has more men than women, but that doesn’t mean women don’t like history — I’m a history major. Having stores tell people which magazine topics they should be interested in based on their gender is not helping to break down the barriers that keep more women from entering high-paying jobs in male-dominated fields and more men from entering fulfilling jobs in female-dominated fields.

What do you think about bookstores and other stores that categorize magazines by gender?

This post was written by Debborah Bratton-Lugo, 2008–09 AAUW Student Advisory Council.

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By:   |   January 13, 2009

3 Comments

  1. kathleen says:

    I decided to work at one of the national book chains during the holidays and one of my duties was to place the magazines in their “proper” places. I did find that history, current events, science and sports had their own section, but as usual, the women’s section had to do with beauty and family, while the men’s section was devoted to body building, cars, and “girls.” So they stereotype both ways! I asked the local manager about this, but the rules come from corporate — so you will find the same situation at each of the stores in the chain.

  2. Carrie in KS says:

    Stereotypes abound in bookstores (it’s not hard to figure out where the books for little girls are…just follow the pink), toy stores (again pink, pink, pink for girls and dark colors for boys), and card stores (try finding a Father’s day card that isn’t about fishing, golfing, or being a couch potato).

  3. In rereading this account of the bias in book stores, I began wondering how many of us notice this type of discrimination, and how many are desensitized to it. What do you think?

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