An In-Depth Look at Gender in Warriors by Flamecloud

Flamecloud examines gender in the Warriors series

This article will contain spoilers about the transition of leadership throughout the Warriors series, so tread carefully!

Hello, all. Today, we shall be looking closer at the roles of she-cats and toms in the warrior cats universe. The data I’ve collected was found using the warriors wiki, and is as accurate as my math abilities allow. Please forgive me if my numbers are off at any point, this took a lot of work and time and it’s likely I misplaced a tally here or there.

One nice thing about Warriors is the fact that there are no few official rules dictating what she-cats can and cannot do. Before we begin, I want to make this clear: I am not trying to say the Erins are bad people, or that Warriors is a bad series. I love Warriors, I love the Erins, but there are some definite trends that I’d like to point out. I’m sure most of these issues were not intentional, but it’s always interesting to look at the patterns that develop.

First of all, the matter of queens. With the exception of Fernsong, who stayed in the nursery as a queen for some time, all queens are female. When a couple has kits, the mother forfeits her warriors duties temporarily and moves to the nursery while the father remains as a warrior. This stay is approximately 8 months, with cats having about a 2 month gestation period and kits taking 6 moons to become an apprentice.

However, I am not a fan of this system. Why shouldn’t parents have equal responsibility for their children? The mother is pregnant for 2 months, and then kits are weaned at about 2 months. That’s 4 months, half of the usual stay. So, really, there’s no reason for queens to stay the entire time other than to follow the standards. Not only is this unfair to any queen who might want to return to her duties earlier, but it allows for lax fatherhood. It’s pretty easy and fairly common for the toms to not be all that involved in the raising of their kits.

Now, that doesn’t mean that the moms should be required to return to their warrior duties halfway through. I just think that the she-cats and toms should have the opportunity to share the responsibility. This should be something that the couple decides for themselves.

Second of all, there is a serious power imbalance between she-cats and toms that definitely ruffles my feathers. While there are no rules against she-cats being leader/deputy, the numbers suggest that there may be some biases in place.

Let’s begin with Thunderclan. Here’s a list of all the modern leaders and deputies. Cats that serve twice as deputy are not counted twice, but deputies who become leaders are counted as both.

Squirrelflight(F) (Lionblaze (M))
Ashfur(M) (((Squirrelfight))Berrynose(M), Bristlefrost(F))
Bramblestar(M) (Squirrelflight (F))
Firestar(M) (Whitestorm(M), Graystripe(M), Bramblestar(M)
Bluestar(F) (Redtail(M), Lionheart(M), Tigerclaw(M), Fireheart(M)
Sunstar(M) (Tawnyspots(M), Bluefur(F))
Pinestar (Mumblefoot (M), Sunfall(M))
Doestar(F) (Pinestar(M))
Oakstar(M) (Beetail(M), Doestar(F))

67% of leaders are male
89% of deputies are male

Shadowclan:
Tigerstar(M) (Tawnypelt(F), Juniperclaw(M), Cloverfoot(F))
Rowanstar(M) (Crowfrost(M), Tigerstar(M), ((Tawnypelt)))
Blackstar(M) (Russetfur(F), Rowanstar(M))
Tigerstar(M) (Blackstar(M))
Nightstar(M) (Cinderfur(M))
Brokenstar(M) (((Blackstar)))
Raggedstar(M) (Foxheart(F), Cloudpelt(M), Brokenstar(M))
Cedarstar(M) (Stonetooth(M), Raggedstar(M))
Houndstar(M) (Cedarstar(M))

100% of leaders are male
73% of deputies are male

Riverclan:
Mistystar(F) (Reedwhisker(M))
Leopardstar(F) (Stonefur(M), Mistystar(F), Hawkfrost(M))
Crookedstar(M) (Timberfur(M), Oakheart(M), Leopardstar(F))
Hailstar(M) (Shellheart(M), Crookedstar(M))
Volestar(M) (Hailstar(M))

60% of leaders are male
80% of deputies are male

Windclan:
Harestar(M) (Crowfeather(M))
Onestar(M) (Ashfoot(F), Harestar(M))
Tallstar(M) (Deadfoot(M), Mudclaw(M), Onestar(M))
Heatherstar(F) (Gorsefoot(M), Reedfeather(M), Tallstar(M))

75% of leaders are male
89% of deputies are male

Skyclan:
Leafstar(F) (Sharpclaw(M), Waspwhisker(M), Hawkwing(M)

100% of leaders are female
100% of deputies are male

With the exception of Skyclan, which has had only one modern leader, there are no clans with a majority of female deputies or leaders. Here are the final, totalled stats. Be warned, they’re not pretty.

Overall, 75% of leaders are male
Overall, 80% of deputies are male

Now, what could the cause behind this be? From an outside of the book standpoint, the Erins’ default leader would appear to be male. Again, like I said earlier, I’m not trying to hate on the Erins. I think It’s a pretty widespread trend that leadership is male dominated, and Warriors is no different.

Here are some other things I’d like to point out. While your average real life population is naturally going to have a fairly even ratio of male/female, only 47% of Warriors characters are female. This is including every female character ever created, not just modern warriors like we’re looking at now.

While there are more male characters in existence, that still doesn’t account for such a severe imbalance.

So, what this might imply is some of the following:
-existing leaders are less likely to see she-cats as good deputies
-she-cats are less likely to want to become deputy
-she-cats are less likely to be qualified to be deputy

Personally, I especially cringe at the second one. As I have no way to prove it or the one above it, we’re going to look at the third. As we all probably know, the requirement to be a deputy is to have trained an apprentice. So, we’re going to look at the mentor stats.

Now, be forewarned, this is only including the stats of cats that are in the allegiance of The Place of No Stars. I’m sorry, but I’m not going to look through every single mentor and record how many apprentices they have and what gender 😛 I want to submit this article before my eyes fall out.

That said, let’s update the stats a bit. I’m not including Medicine cats, because they’re a little different as we’ll discuss later. So this includes every leader/deputy/warrior/queen/elder who’s alive at the start of the Place of No Stars.

Unlike the overall character percentages, toms make up only 43% of the non-medicine cat adult population at this point in time. So, most of the eligible mentors are female. Keep that in mind, that’s important.

What I did was I went through and looked at all the adult cats, and tallied up their numbers by gender and number apprentice. T is for tom, S is for she-cat. T0 means tom with no apprentices, T1 is tom with one apprentice, and so on. Cats who do not mentor an apprentice are not included in the apprentice averages.

T0: 21
T1: 19
T2: 5
T3: 6
T4: 5

S0: 38
S1: 23
S2: 6
S3: 7
S5: 1

First of all, just want to give a shout out to Tawnypelt, the only cat living in this book that mentored five apprentices, in addition to mothering three kits. Unfortunately, while that’s a win for the she-cats, the overall numbers aren’t nice.

-Despite being 57% of the eligible cats, they are only 51% of the mentors.
-49% of eligible females have had an apprentice, while 62% of eligible toms have had an apprentice
-the average female mentor trains 1.6 apprentices while the average male mentor trains 1.9

I then looked at the allegiances of each first book of all the series, excluding Dawn of The clans, to see if this trend was reiterated itself in earlier books. For these, I counted any cat alive that later lived to adulthood, not just adults in that specific book. Here are the results:

Into the Wild:
T0: 2
T1: 13
T2: 4
T3: 4
T4: 1

S0: 7
S1: 2
S2: 3

42% of 12 she-cat had an apprentice (5 mentors), 1.6 average, 33% female, only 19% of mentors
92% of 24 toms listed got an apprentice (22 mentors), 1.7 average

Midnight:
T0: 6
T1: 6
T2: 6
T3: 4
T4:6

S0: 11
S1: 4
S2: 2
S3: 4
S5: 1

79% of 28 toms had apprentices (22 mentors), 2.5 apprentice average
50% of 22 she-cats had apprentices (11 mentors) 44% of the population, 33% of mentors, 2.3 apprentice average

The Sight:
T0 :9
T1: 13
T2: 5
T3 : 5
T4: 7

S0: 13
S1: 8
S2: 5
S3: 5
S5: 1

77% of 39 toms had an apprentice (30 mentors), 2.2 apprentice average
60% of 32 she-cats had an apprentice (19 mentors), 2 apprentice average, 45% of the population and 39% of mentors

The Fourth Apprentice:
T0: 18
T1: 19
T2: 6
T3: 7
T4: 7

S0: 23
S1: 11
S2: 8
S3: 6
S5: 2

68% of 57 toms had an apprentice (39 mentors), 2.1 apprentice average
54% of 50 she-cats had apprentices (27 mentors,) 2 apprentice average, 47% of the population, 41% of mentors

Apprentice’s Journey:
T0: 17
T1: 18
T2: 4
T3: 7
T4: 5

S0:27
S1: 18
S2: 8
S3: 6
S5: 2
67% of of 51 toms had an apprentice (34 mentors) 2 apprentice average
56% of 61 she-cats had an apprentice (34 mentors), 1.8 apprentice average, 54% of the population and 50% of mentors

So, even though they have a decent number advantage over the toms in the more recent books, they’re still losing. The conclusion: she-cats in this given book are less likely to mentor an apprentice, and overall mentor less.

Now, why might this be?
– she-cats make worse mentors
-leaders see she-cats as worse mentors
-she-cats spend more time having kits

Excuse me while I burn the first option, that’s mousedung. But the other two are far more plausible. Once again, only the third is really provable.

Let’s go back to talking about queens for a minute. Remember that number I gave you? 8 moons is how long it takes to be a queen for one litter. Less than one year. I looked at the deaths from Into the Wild to current times, using the characters with known death ages, and the average death age was 61 moons, with very little variation with gender. 8 moons for being a queen, and about 12 moons to become a warrior leaves about 40 moons in which a she-cat could mentor an apprentice, a task which takes only 6 moons in general. Additionally, Tawnypelt, the mentor of 5, is also the mother of 3. Likewise, Snowbird, mother of a grand total of 9, mentored 2 apprentices. This shouldn’t be the deciding factor here. It’s possible for she-cats to be a mom and a mentor in the same lifetime.

Another thing I wondered about was death rates. Maybe she-cats die younger, therefore limiting what ranks they can achieve in their lifetimes? The answer, I was pleased to discover, was no. As I mentioned, using the known death ages of casualties from as early as Into the Wild, the averages for male/female cats were about the same.

In fact, she-cats actually account for far, far less corpses than toms. She-cats accounted for only 40% of the deaths, with a measly 57 compared to the tom’s 86. These numbers could be interpreted in several different ways. The overall character gender divide probably contributes a little, but these stats are more dramatic than the other ratio.

Some possibilities:
-she-cat’s take less risks
-she-cas are better fighters

Most likely, I’d say the death ratio has little significance. Looking through the names of the casualties, there’re so many random deaths I didn’t remember. There’s little reason or rhyme here, in my opinion. Make what you will of it.

Another male dominated career is villinary. Let’s consider some of the main male villains throughout the series:

Tigerstar, Scourge, Brokenstar, Hawkfrost, Sol, Darktail, Ashfur, One Eye

And then the female villain:
Mapleshade

Mapleshade, while cool, is greatly outnumbered by the brigade of male villains. Additionally, while there were many guys who I debated on including on that list (Clear Sky, Thistleclaw, Darkstripe, Mudclaw, ect ect), the only more minor female villains I could think of were Star Flower, and if we’re being generous, Leopardstar.

Another thing I’d like to point out is that all of the main male villains listed above serve as major conflicts throughout the main series. There’s a pretty standard form of trick-betray-defeat with them, where they infiltrate the clans, gain trust, then show their true colors. They are then promptly fought in a large, dramatic battle of some sort, and generally killed.

However, Mappleshade does not star in any of the main series. Her apex of chaos is in a novella, and many of her greatest schemes (for example, tricking Crookedstar), occur in super editions. The only main series I recall her having a major role in is OotS, where she’s sharing the spotlight with the other Dark Forest cats.

Additionally, Mapleshade does not go down with a huge battle (In fact, she’s killed by an apprentice and a pregnant queen). She does not have a battalion of rogues. She never made a grab for leadership. Her background story centers solely around the death of her kits and her mate’s betrayal. While this is still an interesting, engaging story, it varies greatly from the male villains’ backstories. None of them but Ashfur were failed love stories and there was no vengeance over kits. They almost all involved some sort of traumatic event or betrayal, mixed with ambition.

So, even though Mapleshade is wonderfully devious just like the rest of her cohorts, her story is about love while theirs is about power. I’m not saying her or her backstory is bad, but it seems a little strange that the only female character is also the only one who’s backstory did not include an attempt to take over something.

Another interesting thing to consider is the fact that of known Dark Forest trainees, 8 out of 25 were female compared to the 17 male trainees.

Now, shouldn’t it be a good thing that there’s less female villains? That shines positively upon she-cats, doesn’t it? I don’t really think so. As I’ve mentioned before, most of the male villains were created out of trauma and ambition. So does that mean that she-cats just have less ambition? Or that they’re more likely to react peacefully to trauma? I don’t think either of those things are particularly complimentary, especially in a fictional setting. We ladies are once again portrayed as kind and gentle with minimal ambition. Warriors needs more kickbutt female villains, preferably some that are just as ambitious as their male counterparts.

I have one final point to make before I leave you to your thoughts. We’ve looked at how she-cats are largely left out of the high positions, with toms dominating in many situations. However, there does appear to be one position that is equally split, which is equally telling.

Below are the modern medicine cats:

Alderheart(M)
Jayfeather(M)
Leafpool(F)
Cinderpelt(F)
Yellowfang(F)
Spottedleaf(F)
Featherwhisker(M)
Goosefeather(M)
Cloudberry(F)
Ravenwing(M)
Shadowsight(M)
Puddleshine(M)
Flametail(M)
Littlecloud(M)
Runningnose(M)
Sagewhisker(F)
Redthistle(F)
Willowshine(F)
Mothwing(F)
Mudfur(M)
Brambleberry(F)
Milkfur(F)
Echosnout(F)
Kestrelflight(M)
Barkface(M)
Hawkheart(M)
Fidgetflake (M)
Frecklewish(F)
Echosong(F)

We have 14 she-cats to 15 toms, close enough that there isn’t really a trend in either direction. So, although leader and deputy are definitely male dominated, medicine cat is a unisex occupation.

Yay!

…..right?

Unfortunately, I’d say not yay. While medicine cats are pretty cool, let’s look at them in comparison to leaders and deputies. Leaders are in charge of the clans, and their word is law. They are in control of battles, of life and death. Deputies are the leader’s second in command, offering their opinions, leading in the leader’s absence, and organizing patrols. On the flip side, we have medicine cats. While they are often privy to the leader’s confidential plans, and are respected, they do not have any direct command. Unlike warriors/deputies/leaders, they do not fight. Instead, they care for and heal their clanmates, they gather herbs, and they converse with Starclan.

I want you to think about how that reflects what we typically expect to see of females, from both Warriors and real life alike. She-cats can be peaceful, caring, spiritual healers, but not leadership figures. This definitely aligns with stereotypes of females as weaker but more caring, while males are stronger and less emotional. I’m not saying that equality in medicine cats is a bad thing, but with the lack of equality in leaders/deputies, it kind of works to reinforce traditional standards that I think we see plenty of as it is.

In general, I’d say that Warriors do a pretty good job with gender roles. There’s a decent variety of personalities in the major female characters, and there are she-cats in power. Currently, Warriors is also taking a turn for the better as far as power distribution goes. At the moment, every clan but Windclan (which has two toms) has a she-cat as either leader or deputy. The she-cats actually have the toms beat for once when it comes to strictly leaders, with Squirrelflight, Mistystar, and Leafstar outnumbering Tigerstar and Harestar. Plus, we’ve recently had our first male queen.

However, while not terrible with representation, Warriors is by no means perfect. There is still definitely room for improvement. I want those female leaders to keep coming, I want more female villains, and I’d love to see the queen system re-evaluated.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article! What’re your thoughts on gender roles in Warriors?

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31 comments

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  • I’ve thought about this before and I’m so glad somebody finally made an article about it! 🙂 Thanks so much Flamecloud!

  • So, I looked on all known leaders, medicine cats and deputies. That’s what I found out. (Source: German Warriors Wiki)
    ThunderClan had 19 Leaders (with Graystripe and Ashfur), three female: Doestar, Bluestar, Squirrelflight.
    ThunderClan had 26 deputies, seven female: Daisyheart, Greeneyes, Leafstorm, Seedpelt, Doestar, Squirrelflight and Bristlefrost.
    Female leaders: 15,79%
    Female deputies: 26,92%
    ShadowClan had 23 leaders, eight female: Dawnstar, Shadow, Hollystar, Brindlestar, Lilystar, Brightwhisker (died before receiving nine lives), Flowerstar and Yellowstar. (Yeah, Shadow, the first leader, was FEMALE!)
    ShadowClan had 23 deputies, six female: Sunnytail, Brightwhisker, Foxheart, Russetfur, Tawnypelt and Cloverfoot.
    Female leaders: 34,78%
    Female deputies: 26,09%
    Next one is WindClan. Again the first leader, Wind, is female.
    WindClan had 16 leaders, 5 female: Wind, Featherstar, Fallowstar, Birchstar and Heatherstar.
    WindClan had 16 deputies, 2 female: Heatherstar, Ashfoot.
    Female leaders: 31,25%
    Female deputies: 12,5%
    RiverClan had 17 leaders, 7 female: Darkstar, Willowstar, Ivystar, Birchstar, Darkstar, Leopardstar and Mistystar.
    RiverClan had 13 deputies, 4 female: Night, Sloefur, Leopardstar and Mistystar.
    Female leaders: 41,18 %
    Female deputies: 30,77%
    SkyClan had 16 leaders, 4 female: Mothpelt, Maplestar, Fennelstat, Leafstar
    SkyClan had 12 deputies, 5 female: Sparrow Fur, Maplestar, Raincloud, Petalfall, Honeyleaf
    Female leaders: 25%
    Female deputies: 41,67%
    Most female leaders: RiverClan, 41,18%
    Least female leaders: ThunderClan, 15,79%
    Most female deputies: SkyClan, 41,67%
    Least female deputies: WindClan, 12,5%
    All female leaders: 29,67%
    All female deputies: 26,67%
    And there are 29 female and 29 male medicine cats.
    And yeah, female villains. Sleekwhisker, the one that stole Flaxfoot and the other kit. She should have been the villain for the other half of VoS. I still hope that we’ll see her again, but yeah… Oh, and Ivypool should have stayed in the Place of no Stars, i’d like to see an evil POV in the main arcs.
    (Had to keep it short, original comment was longer)

  • youve obviously put a huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge amount of effort and research into this article, its amazing! great job! i agree with you, but I think that we need more sassy, independent women such as ivypool and needletail. and we definitely need more male involvement in the raising of kits. great article anyway

  • Great article! I will say that dawn of the clans would have affected this. (Such as Skyclan leaders having been 50% female) It would be interesting to see how that would affect things. Awesome job!

  • Cheetahheart, (Warrior name) Cheetah heart, (Ancients) Cheetah that runs through valley, (Tribe of rushing water) Cheetah (Sisters) tell me if i missed any names! says:

    this is interesting, but SO dissagreeable.

    • Could you elaborate on that? Do you mean you disagree with the article, or that it is itself disagreeable (as in not pleasant, ill-tempered, ect)?

      If it’s the later, I just want to reiterate that this wasn’t meant to be a criticism of the Erins or anything like that, and I’m sorry if it came off that way. It was aimed to point out some things that had bothered me, which I thought would make an interesting article. The good things about warriors greatly outweigh these relatively little details.

  • I would say I disagree with this article but it was still good and you obviously put a lot of effort and research into it. Warrior cats still need more representation of female leaders and deputies. In warriors, it is shown that once a she-cat becomes a queen she isn’t going to become a deputy with the exception of Tawnypelt. In Bluestar’s Prophecy, Bluefur is an exceptional warrior but once she becomes a queen it is assumed that is all she ever will be: “You’ll be a wonderful mother, an asset to the clan.” A small sigh escaped him. “I had hoped that one day you would follow in my paw steps, but StarClan seems to have a different path for you.” Sunstar is basically saying now that Bluefur is a queen that she cant be deputy as she has a different path now. Another thing is she-cats are usually expected to have kits as shown in lots of books such as Finleap pressuring Twigbranch (no hate, I love the ship) and I can’t find the exact quote but it’s something about Hollyleaf asking Squirrelflight about why everyone expects her to have kits and even Squirrelflight says eventually she will want to have them. ShadowClan especially needs more representation with all of their leaders being male. Albeit SkyClan does have all its modern leaders female but this is based on one leader and some of the other notable leaders of SkyClan are all male Skystar or Clear Sky (First leader), Cloudstar (leader who had to leave the forest) and Spiderstar (last leader of Ancient SkyClan). So basically the she-cats need more representation in roles of power. Sorry for the long comment 😊

    • No worries, I love long comments!

      However I’m not quite sure what you’re disagreeing with, not enough female leaders/deputies was one of the main points of the article and definitely something I agree warriors needs to work on 😛 I also totally agree on the kit expectations bit, I just hadn’t thought of that when writing this.

  • Um, not quite agreeing with this – there have been TONS of female leaders and deputies. Some of the most common are Bluestar, Leopardstar, and Mistystar, but didn’t ShadowClan have a leader named Flowerstar? WindClan had Windstar and Heatherstar.
    Ashfoot was deputy of WindClan, Russetfur of ShadowClan, and in Darkness Within, Squirrelflight went from deputy to acting leader.
    Also, one reason why there may not be quite as many female leaders or deputies: if they have kits, that would distract them from their Clan duties. And they HAVE to go to the nursery – only she-cats can produce the milk for kits. Toms can’t do that. But the toms still share parent responsibility: they hunt for food, which feeds the queens, who feed the kits.
    But I respect your opinion, Flamecloud. You obviously put a lot of work into this article! Great job! 👍😸

  • Great Article! Also.. I may have over looked it, but when you listed the genders of the deputies and the leaders, you forgot to mention that Shadowstar had ruled as leader of ShadowClan and Tall Shadow was female.

  • I totally agree! I don’t even think there are any female villains. Mapleshade went crazy, and thought she was saving her kits by killing cats. Star Flower was a jerk, but not evil, and Leopardstar was misled, but she turned out to be a good cat. More female leaders, deputies, and villains! More male queens!