, Volume 32, Issue 9-10, pp 651-673

Gender roles in animated cartoons: Has the picture changed in 20 years?

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Abstract

This study is an update of research done primarily in the 1970s on gender representation in children's cartoons. In the present study, 175 episodes of 41 different cartoons were coded for numbers and demographic characteristics of male, female, and androgynous characters. Behaviors, communication characteristics, and total talk time of male and female characters were coded, along with copyright year and country of origin. Results indicated notable discrepancies between prominence and portrayal of male and female characters. Both male and female characters were portrayed stereotypically. Compared to female characters, male characters were given much more prominence, appeared more frequently, engaged in more of almost all of the noted behaviors, and talked significantly more. When male or female behavior and communication variables were divided by number of male or female characters or by total talk time, results indicated consistency with gender role stereotypes. Comparisons of pre- and post-1980 cartoons, however, indicated significant change toward a less stereotypical portrayal of the characters, particularly female characters.

The authors would like to thank Kris Morlan, Lynn Mildenberger, and Nita Sanil for helpful assistance during the preparation of the manuscript.