Sex Roles

, Volume 40, Issue 7–8, pp 527–544 | Cite as

Recognition and Respect: A Content Analysis of Prime-Time Television Characters Across Three Decades

  • Nancy Signorielli
  • Aaron Bacue


This content analysis of week-long samples ofprime-time network dramatic programs broadcast betweenthe fall of 1967 and the spring of 1998 found thatwomenconsistently receive less recognition than men on television. While programs broadcast in the1990's had more women than those broadcast in the 1960'sand early 1970's, the women were still under representedin relation to their numbers in the U.S. population. There has been, however, somechange in the amount and degree of respect given towomen on prime time. While women are still categorizedas younger than their male counterparts, over the past 30 years more women are presented as employedoutside the home and the percentage of women cast inmore prestigious occupations has increased considerably.Whereas in the 1970's about a quarter of the women were depicted in traditionally femaleoccupations such as teachers or nurses, during the1980's and 1990's a smaller portion of the women werecast in these jobs. In contrast, the percent of women intraditional male or genderneutral jobs increasedsignificantly from the 1970's to the 1990's.


Social Psychology Content Analysis Television Character Male Counterpart Prime Time 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Atkin, D. J., Moorman, J., & Lin, C. A. (1991). Ready for prime time: Network series devoted to working women in the 1980's. Sex Roles, 25, 677–685.Google Scholar
  2. Bazzini, D. G., McIntosh, W. D., Smith, S. M., Cook, S., & Harris, C. (1997). The aging woman in popular film: Underre presented, unattractive, unfriendly, and unintelligent. Sex Roles, 36, 531–543.Google Scholar
  3. Beck, K. (1978). Television and the older woman. Television Quarterly, 15, 47–49.Google Scholar
  4. Clark, C. (1972). Race, identification, and television violence. In G. A. Comstock, E. A. Rubinstein, & J. P. Murray (Eds.), Television and social behavior.Vol. 5.Television's effects: Further Explorations. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  5. Davis, D. M. (1990). Portrayals of women in prime time network television: Some demographic characteristics. Sex Roles, 23, 325–332.Google Scholar
  6. DeFleur, M. (1964). Occupational roles as portrayed on television. Public Opinion Quarterly, 28, 57–74.Google Scholar
  7. Gerbner, G. (1993). Violence in cable-originated television programs. Philadelphia, PA: The Annenberg School for Communication.Google Scholar
  8. Gerbner, G. (1972). Violence in television drama: Trends and symbolic functions. In G. A. Comstock & E. A. Rubinstein (Eds.), Television and Social Behavior (Vol. 1).Media Content and Control (pp. 28–187). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  9. Gerbner, G., Gross, L., Signorielli, N., & Morgan, M. (1980). Aging with television: Images on television drama and conceptions of social reality. Journal of Communication, 30(1), 37–47.Google Scholar
  10. Gerbner, G., & Signorielli, N. (1982). The world according to television. American Demographics, pp. 15–17.Google Scholar
  11. Greenberg, B. S., & Collette, L. (1997). The changing faces on TV: A demographic analysis of network television's new seasons, 1966–1992. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 41, 1–13.Google Scholar
  12. Head, S. (1954). Content analysis of television drama programs. Quarterly of Film, Radio, and Television, 9, 175–194.Google Scholar
  13. Krippendorff, K. (1980). Content analysis. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  14. McNeil, J. (1975). Feminism, femininity and the television series: A content analysis. Journal of Broadcasting, 19, 259–269.Google Scholar
  15. Nielsen, A. C. (1990). Nielsen report on television. New York: Nielsen Media Research.Google Scholar
  16. Olsen, B., & Douglas, W. (1997). The family on television: Evaluation of gender roles in situation comedy. Sex Roles, 36, 409–427.Google Scholar
  17. Roy, A., & Harwood, J. (1997). Underrepresented, positively portrayed: Older adults in television commercials. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 25, 39–56.Google Scholar
  18. Signorielli, N. (1991). A sourcebook on children and television. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
  19. Signorielli, N. (1982). Marital status in television drama: A case of reduced options. Journal of Broadcasting, 26, 585–587.Google Scholar
  20. Signorielli, N. (1974). Patterns in prime time. Journal of Communication, 24(2), 119–124.Google Scholar
  21. Signorielli, N. (1993). Television and adolescents' perceptions about work. Youth & Society, 24, 314–341.Google Scholar
  22. Signorielli, N. (1989). Television and conceptions about sex roles: Maintaining conventionality and the status quo. Sex Roles, 21, 341–360.Google Scholar
  23. Signorielli, N. (1983). The demography of the television world. In O. H. Gandy, P. Espinosa, & J. A. Ordover (Eds.), Proceedings from the Tenth Annual Telecommunications Policy Research Conference. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.Google Scholar
  24. Signorielli, N., Gross, L., & Morgan, M. (1982). Violence in television programs: Ten years later. In D. Pearl, L. Bouthilet, & J. Lazar (Eds.), Television and behavior: Ten years of scientific progress and implications for the eighties.Vol. 2.Technical Reports. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  25. Tuchman, G., Daniels, A. K., & Benet, J. (Eds.). (1978). Hearth and Home: Images of Women in the Mass Media. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Vande Berg, L. R., & Streckfuss, D. (1992). Prime-time television's portrayal of women and the world of work: A demographic profile. Journal of Broadcasting, 36, 195–208.Google Scholar
  27. Vernon, J. A., Williams, J. A., Phillips, T., & Wilson, J. (1990). Media stereotyping: A comparison of the way elderly women and men are portrayed on prime-time television. Journal of Women and Aging, 2, 55–68.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nancy Signorielli
  • Aaron Bacue

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations