Sex Roles

, Volume 51, Issue 7–8, pp 423–431 | Cite as

Gender and Racial Stereotypes in Daily Newspaper Comics: A Time-Honored Tradition?


This study was designed to examine gender and minority roles in daily newspaper comics. Fifty comics from four daily newspapers were sampled during a month-long period. Gender roles were found to be stereotypical; women were underrepresented, more likely than men to be married and have children, and not as likely as men to have a job. More attention was paid to women's appearance, and female characters, when they did work, had lower job status than did male characters. Activities and behaviors were also divided along gender lines. Female characters did more of the domestic work such as child care and household chores, and male characters did more yard work. Female characters were more verbally aggressive, and most of the physical aggression was confined to “adult dramas” where men dominated. Minorities were basically nonexistent, save for a few strips that included or focused upon African Americans.

newspaper comics gender minority roles 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Allen, K., & Coltrane, S. (1996). Gender displaying television commercials: A comparative study of television commercials in the 1950s and 1980s. Sex Roles, 35, 185–203.Google Scholar
  2. Astor, D. (1992, October 3). Many comics getting up in years. Editor and Publisher, pp. 30–32.Google Scholar
  3. Astor, D. (1988, October 8). They say the comics are too White. Editor and Publisher, pp. 40–42.Google Scholar
  4. Astor, D. (1995, May 15). A look at the state of comics as they enter their second century. Editor and Publisher, pp. 39–41.Google Scholar
  5. Astor, D. (1998a, December 5). Diversity push makes the comics a little less White. Editor and Publisher, pp. 34–35.Google Scholar
  6. Astor, D. (1998b, March 7). Garfield and Dilbert tops in top papers. Editor and Publisher, pp. 36–37.Google Scholar
  7. Astor, D. (1999a, June 5). Comic fans angered by Globe ombudsman piece. Editor and Publisher, p. 31.Google Scholar
  8. Astor, D. (1999b, October 9). Boondocks artist still living on the edge of controversy. Editor and Publisher, pp. 47–48.Google Scholar
  9. Astor, D. (1999c, October 30). Cartoonists drawing more topical comics as century draws to a close. Editor and Publisher, pp. 36–37.Google Scholar
  10. Astor, D. (2000, January 10). King features six women in one cartoon package. Editor and Publisher, p. 34.Google Scholar
  11. Astor, D. (2003, December 1). A poll model for comics sections? Editor and Publisher, p. 33.Google Scholar
  12. Baptista-Fernandez, P., & Greenberg, B. S. (1980). The context, characteristics and communication behaviors of blacks on television. In B. S. Greenberg (Ed.), Life on television (pp. 13–21). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.Google Scholar
  13. Brabant, S. (1976). Sex role stereotyping in the Sunday comics. Sex Roles, 2, 331–337.Google Scholar
  14. Brabant, S., & Mooney, L. (1986). Sex role stereotyping in the Sunday comics: Ten years later. Sex Roles, 14, 141–148.Google Scholar
  15. Bretl, D. J., & Cantor, J. (1988). The portrayal of men and women in U.S. television commercials: A recent content analysis and trends over 15 years. Sex Roles, 18, 595–609.Google Scholar
  16. Busby, L. J. (1975). Sex-role research on the mass media. Journal of Communication, 25, 107–131.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Busby, L. J., & Leichty, G. (1993). Feminism and advertising in traditional and nontraditional women's magazines 1950s–1980s. Journalism Quarterly, 70, 247–264.Google Scholar
  18. Chavez, D. (1985). Perpetuation of gender inequality: A content analysis of comic strips. Sex Roles, 13, 93–102.Google Scholar
  19. Elasmar, M., Hasegawa, K., & Brain, M. (1999). The portrayal of women in U.S. prime time television. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 44(1), 20–34.Google Scholar
  20. Ferrante, C. L., Haynes, A. M., & Kingsley, S. M. (1988). Image of women in television advertising. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 32, 231–237.Google Scholar
  21. Greenberg, B., & Kahn, S. (1970). Blacks in Playboy cartoons. Journalism Quarterly, 47, 557–560.Google Scholar
  22. Greenberg, B. S., Edison, N., Korzenny, F., Fernandez-Collado, C., & Atkin, C. K. (1980). Antisocial and prosocial behaviors on television. In B. S. Greenberg (Ed.), Life on television (pp. 99–128). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.Google Scholar
  23. Gerbner, G., Gross, L., Jackson-Beeck, M., Jeffries-Fox, S., & Signorielli, N. (1978). Cultural indicators: Violence profile No. 9. Journal of Communication, 29, 176–207.Google Scholar
  24. Gerbner, G., Gross, L., Morgan, M., & Signorielli, N. (1986). Living with television: The dynamics of the cultivation process. In J. Bryant & D. Zillmann (Eds.), Perspectives on media effects (pp. 17–40). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  25. Glascock, J. (2001). Gender roles on prime-time network television: Demographics and behaviors. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 45, 656–669.Google Scholar
  26. Glascock, J. (2003). Gender, race, and aggression in newer TV networks prime time programming. Communication Quarterly, 51, 90–100.Google Scholar
  27. Gower, D. L. (1995). Health-related content in daily newspaper comic strips: A content analysis with implications for health education. Education, 11, 37–42.Google Scholar
  28. Hawkins, J. W., & Aber, C. S. (1993). Women in advertisements in medical journals. Sex Roles, 28, 233–342.Google Scholar
  29. Jolliffe, L., & Catlett, T. (1994). Women editors at the Seven Sisters magazines, 1965-1985: Did they make a difference? Journalism Quarterly, 71, 800–808.Google Scholar
  30. Krippendorff, K. (1980). Content analysis: An Introduction to its methodology. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  31. Lauzen, M. M., & Dozier, D. M. (1999). Making a difference in prime time: Women on screen and behind the scenes in the 1995-96 television season. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 43, 1–19.Google Scholar
  32. Leppard, W., Ogletree, M., & Wallen, E. (1993). Gender stereo-typing in medical advertising: Much ado about something? Sex Roles, 29, 829–838.Google Scholar
  33. Mastro, D. E., & Greenberg, B. S. (2000). The portrayal of racial minorities on prime time television. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 44, 690–703.Google Scholar
  34. Moody, L., & Brabant, S. (1987). Two martinis and a rested woman: 'Liberation' in the Sunday comics. Sex Roles, 17, 409–420.Google Scholar
  35. Newspaper Association of America. (2003). Facts about newspapers: A statistical summary of the newspaper industry. Vienna, VA: Newspaper Association of America.Google Scholar
  36. Scharrer, E. (2001). From wise to foolish: The portrayal of the sitcom father, 1950s–1990s. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 45, 23–40.Google Scholar
  37. Signorielli, N., & Kahlenberg, S. (2001). Television world of work in the nineties. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 45, 4–22.Google Scholar
  38. Signorielli, N., McLeod, D., & Healy, E. (1994). Gender stereo-types in MTV commercials: The beat goes on. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 38, 91–101.Google Scholar
  39. Sullivan, G. L., & O'Connor, P. J. (1988). Women's role portrayals in magazine advertising: 1958–1983. Sex Roles, 18, 181–188.Google Scholar
  40. Strupp, J. (2000, September 2000). New ‘E&P’ poll reveals very active readership. Editor and Publisher pp. 7–8.Google Scholar
  41. Tan, A., & Tan, G. (1979). Television use and self-esteem of Blacks. Journal of Communication, 55, 129–135.Google Scholar
  42. Tedesco, N. S. (1974). Patterns in prime time. Journal of Communication, 24, 119–124.Google Scholar
  43. Thibodeau, R. (1989) From racism to tokenism: The changing face of Blacks in New Yorker cartoons. Public Opinion Quarterly, 53, 482–494.Google Scholar
  44. U.S. Census Bureau. (2000). Census 2000 summary file 1: Race and Hispanic or Latino [On-line]. Retrieved from http:// on May 11, 2004.Google Scholar
  45. White, S. E., & Fuentez, T. (1997). Analysis of Black images in comic strips, 1915–1995. Newspaper Research Journal, 19, 72–86.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of CommunicationIllinois State UniversityNormal

Personalised recommendations