Sex Roles

, Volume 64, Issue 3–4, pp 290–298 | Cite as

Content Analysis of Gender Roles in Media: Where Are We Now and Where Should We Go?

Original Article

Abstract

This paper provides a commentary regarding the quantitative content analyses of gender roles in media published in the two special issues of Sex Roles (Rudy et al. 2010a, 2011). A few themes and some overarching lessons emerge from the wide variety of data presented. First, it is clear that women are under-represented across a range of media and settings. Second, when women are portrayed, it is often in a circumscribed and negative manner. Women are often sexualized—typically by showing them in scanty or provocative clothing. Women are also subordinated in various ways, as indicated by their facial expressions, body positions, and other factors. Finally, they are shown in traditionally feminine (i.e., stereotyped) roles. Women are portrayed as nonprofessionals, homemakers, wives or parents, and sexual gatekeepers. Although the studies generally support these conclusions, some interesting moderating factors are identified, such as race. It is suggested that next steps involve the development of theory and a body of empirical evidence regarding the effects of exposure to under-representation of women. Data concerning the effects of exposure to sexualized or stereotypical portrayals on young audiences is also lacking. Finally, content analyses of new media, including those created and distributed by users, are recommended as a next step. It is concluded that, while increasing the representation of women in media may be valuable, it is also critical that the manner in which they are portrayed be simultaneously considered to avoid increasing negative or stereotypical depictions that may be particularly harmful to viewers.

Keywords

Media effects Content analysis Gender roles Sex 

References

  1. American Psychological Association, Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls. (2010). Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/girls/report-full.pdf.
  2. Bandura, A. (2002). Social cognitive theory of mass communication. In J. Bryant & D. Zillmann (Eds.), Media effects: Advances in theory and research (2nd ed., pp. 121–154). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  3. Bird, C. E., & Rieker, P. P. (1999). Gender matters: An integrated model for understanding men’s and women’s health. Social Science & Medicine, 48, 745–755. doi:10.1016/S0277-9536(98)00402-X.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brodie, M., Kjellson, N., Hoff, T., & Parker, M. (1999). Perceptions of Latinos, African Americans, and Whites on media as a health information source. Howard Journal of Communications, 10, 147–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brown, J. D., L’Engle, K. L., Pardun, C. J., Guo, G., & Jackson, C. (2006). Sexy media matter: Exposure to sexual content in music, movies, television, and magazines predicts black and white adolescents’ sexual behavior. Pediatrics, 117, 1018–1027. doi:10.1542/peds.2005-1406.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Calvert, S. L., & Huston, A. C. (1987). Television and children’s gender schemata. In L. S. Liben & M. L. Signorella (Eds.), Children’s gender schemata (pp. 75–88). San Francisco: Jossey Bass.Google Scholar
  7. Collins, R. L., Elliott, M. N., Berry, S. H., Kanouse, D. E., Kunkel, D., Hunter, S. B., et al. (2004). Watching sex on television predicts adolescent initiation of sexual behavior. Pediatrics, 114, e280–e289. doi:10.1542/peds.2003-1065-L.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Dal Cin, S., Zanna, M. P., & Fong, G. T. (2004). Narrative persuasion and overcoming resistance. In E. S. Knowles & J. A. Linn (Eds.), Resistance and persuasion (pp. 175–191). Mahwah: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  9. Dal Cin, S., Gibson, B., Zanna, M. P., & Fong, G. T. (2007). Smoking in movies: Implicit associations of smoking with the self, and intentions to smoke. Psychological Science, 18, 559–563. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2007.01939.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Das, M. (2010). Gender role portrayals in Indian television ads. Sex Roles. doi:10.1007/s11199-010-9750-1. this issue.Google Scholar
  11. Desmond, R., & Danilewicz, A. (2010). Women are on, but not in, the news: Gender roles in local television news. Sex Roles, 62, 822–829. doi:10.1007/s11199-009-9686-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Downs, E., & Smith, S. L. (2010). Keeping abreast of hypersexuality: A video game character content analysis. Sex Roles, 62, 721–733. doi:10.1007/s11199-009-9637-1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Finger, J., Unz, D. C., & Schwab, F. (2010). Crime scene investigation: The chief inspectors’ display rules. Sex Roles, 62, 798–809. doi:10.1007/s11199-009-9722-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fox News (2007). Report: Sexual images psychologically damaging young girls. Retrieved from http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,252859,00.html
  15. Fullerton, H.N. Jr. (1999). Labor force participation: 75 years of change, 1950-98 and 1998–2025. Monthly Labor Review, 122.Google Scholar
  16. Gerbner, G., & Signorielli, N. (1979). Women and minorities in television drama 1969–1978. Philadelphia: The Annenberg School of Communications, University of Pennsylvania.Google Scholar
  17. Gilpatric, K. (2010). Violent female action characters in contemporary American cinema. Sex Roles, 62, 734–746. doi:10.1007/s11199-010-9757-7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Grabe, S., Ward, L. M., & Hyde, J. S. (2008). The role of the media in body image concerns among women: A meta-analysis of experimental and correlational studies. Psychological Bulletin, 134, 460–476. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.134.3.460.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Greenberg, B. S., & Atkin, C. (1982). Learning about minorities from television: A research agenda. In G. Berry & G. Mitchell-Kerman (Eds.), Television and the socialization of the minority child (pp. 215–243). New York: Academic.Google Scholar
  20. Greenberg, B. S., Mastro, D., & Brand, J. E. (2002). Minorities and the mass media: Television into the 21st century. In J. Bryant & D. Zillmann (Eds.), Media effects: Advances in theory and research (2nd ed., pp. 333–351). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  21. Heatherton, T. F., & Sargent, J. D. (2009). Does watching smoking in movies promote teenage smoking? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18, 63–67. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8721.2009.01610.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Herek, G. M. (2002). Gender gaps in public opinion about lesbians and gay men. Public Opinion Quarterly, 66, 40–66. doi:10.1086/338409.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hether, J., & Murphy, S. T. (2010). Sex roles in health storylines on prime time television: A content analysis. Sex Roles, 62, 810–821. doi:10.1007/s11199-009-9654-0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Huesmann, L. R. (2007). The impact of electronic media violence: Scientific theory and research. Journal of Adolescent Health, 41, S6–S13. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2007.09.005.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Kahlenberg, S. G., & Hein, M. M. (2010). Progression on Nickelodeon? Gender-role stereotypes in toy commercials. Sex Roles, 62, 830–847. doi:10.1007/s11199-009-9653-1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mager, J., & Helgeson, J. (2010). Fifty years of advertising images: Some changing perspectives on role portrayals along with enduring consistencies. Sex Roles. doi:10.1007/s11199-010-9782-6. this issue.Google Scholar
  27. LifesiteNews.com. (2007). Boycott of Dove products urged as nude ads air prime time. Retrieved from http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/archive/ldn/2007/mar/07030501
  28. Martino, S. C., Collins, R. L., Elliott, M. N., Strachman, A., Kanouse, D. E., & Berry, S. H. (2006). Exposure to degrading versus non-degrading music lyrics and sexual behavior among youth. Pediatrics, 118, 430–441.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Matud, P. M. (2010). Gender in Spanish daily newspapers. Sex Roles. doi:10.1007/s11199-010-9874-3. this issue.Google Scholar
  30. McDermott, S. T., & Greenberg, B. S. (1984). Parents, peers and television as determinants of Black children’s esteem. In R. Bostrom (Ed.), Communication yearbook 8 (pp. 164–177). Beverly Hills: Sage.Google Scholar
  31. Nam, K., Lee, G., & Hwang, J. (2010). Gender stereotypes depicted by western and Korean advertising models in Korean adolescent girls’ magazines. Sex Roles. doi:10.1007/s11199-010-9878-z. this issue.Google Scholar
  32. Neuendorf, K. (2010). Content analysis—A methodological primer for gender research. Sex Roles. doi:10.1007/s11199-010-9893-0. this issue.Google Scholar
  33. Neuendorf, K., Gore, T. D., Dalessandro, A., Janstova, P., & Snyder-Suhy, S. (2010). Shaken and stirred: A content analysis of women’s portrayals in James Bond films. Sex Roles, 62, 747–761. doi:10.1007/s11199-009-9644-2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Oatley, K. (1996). Inference in narrative and science. In D. R. Olson & N. Torrance (Eds.), Modes of thought: Explorations in culture and cognition (pp. 123–140). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Paek, H., Nelson, M. R., & Vilela, A. M. (2010). Examination of gender-role portrayals in television advertising across seven countries. Sex Roles. doi:10.1007/s11199-010-9850-y. this issue.Google Scholar
  36. RAND National Defense Research Institute. (2010). Sexual orientation and U.S. military personnel policy: An update of RAND’s 1993 study. Santa Monica: RAND Corporation.Google Scholar
  37. Rideout, V. J., Foehr, U. G., & Roberts, D. F. (2010). Generation M2 media in the lives of 8- to 18-year olds. Menlo Park: Kaiser Family Foundation.Google Scholar
  38. Rudy, R. M., Popova, L., & Linz, D. G. (2010a). Content analysis [Special issue]. Sex Roles, 62, 705–847.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Rudy, R. M., Popova, L., & Linz, D. G. (2010b). The context of current content analysis of gender roles: An introduction to a special issue. Sex Roles, 62, 705–720.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Rudy, R. M., Popova, L., & Linz, D. G. (2011). Content analysis II [Special issue]. Sex Roles, this issue.Google Scholar
  41. Schwartz, J. (2010). Whose voices are heard? Gender, sexual orientation and newspaper sources. Sex Roles. doi:10.1007/s11199-010-9825-z. this issue.Google Scholar
  42. Simmons New Media Study (2009). New media study discovers Americans need 38 hours per day to complete their tasks. Experian Simmons Press Center. Retrieved from http://www.smrb.com/web/guest/press-release-new-media-study-discovery.
  43. Slater, M. D., & Rouner, D. (2002). Entertainment-education and elaboration likelihood: Understanding the processing of narrative persuasion. Communication Theory, 12, 173–191. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2885.2002.tb00265.x.Google Scholar
  44. Smith, S. L., Pieper, K. M., Granados, A., & Choueiti, M. (2010). Assessing gender-related portrayals in top-grossing G-rated films. Sex Roles, 62, 774–786. doi:10.1007/s11199-009-9736-z.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Steele, J. (1996). Teenage sexuality and media practice: Factoring in the influence of family, friends, and school. Journal of Sex Research, 36, 331–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Turner, J. S. (2010). Sex and the spectacle of music videos: An examination of the portrayal of race and sexuality in music videos. Sex Roles. doi:10.1007/s11199-010-9766-6. this issue.Google Scholar
  47. Twenge, J. M., & Crocker, J. (2002). Race and self-esteem: Meta-analyses comparing Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and American Indians and comment on Gray-Little and Hafdahl (2000). Psychological Bulletin, 128, 371–408.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. U.S. Centers for Disease Control, MMWR. (2009). Differences in prevalence of obesity among Black, White, and Hispanic Adults—United States, 2006–2008. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports, 58, 740–744.Google Scholar
  49. U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2000). Changes in women’s labor force participation in the 20th century.Google Scholar
  50. U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2009). Women in the labor force: A databook. (Report No. 1018).Google Scholar
  51. Wallis, C. (2010). Performing gender: A content analysis of gender display in music videos. Sex Roles. doi:10.1007/s11199-010-9814-2. this issue.Google Scholar
  52. Ward, L. M. (2002). Does television exposure affect emerging adults’ attitudes and assumptions about sexual relationships? Correlational and experimental confirmation. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 31, 1–15. doi:10.1023/A:1014068031532.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Welsh, A. (2010). On the perils of living dangerously in the slasher horror film: Gender differences in the association between sexual activity and survival. Sex Roles, 62, 762–773. doi:10.1007/s11199-010-9762-x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Zhang, Y., Dixon, T. L., & Conrad, K. (2010). Female body image as a function of themes in rap music videos: A content analysis. Sex Roles, 62, 787–797. doi:10.1007/s11199-009-9656.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.RANDSanta MonicaUSA

Personalised recommendations