Stereotyping of Women in Television Advertisements

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STEREOTYPING OF WOMEN IN TELEVISION ADVERTISEMENTS

A Thesis Submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the Louisiana Sate University and Agricultural and Mechanical College In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Mass Communication in The Manship School of Mass Communication

By Vaishali Shrikhande B’Com., University of Pune, India, 1998 M.C. M.S., Mass Communication, University of Pune, India, 2000 August, 2003

Table of Contents PAGE ABSTRACT…………………………………………………………………..iii CHAPTER I. INTRODUCTION…………………………………………………1 II. III. IV. V. LITERATURE REVIEW…………………………………………..6 METHOD………..………………………………………………..19 RESULTS…………………..……………………………………..25 DISCUSSION……………………………………………………..46

REFERENCES………………………………………………………………..51 APPENDIX A: CODING BIBLE..…………………………………………...54 APPENDIX B: CODING SHEET…………………..………………………...58 VITA.………………………………………………………………………….59

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Abstract

This study examined the portrayal of women in television commercials and documented the stereotypes associated with women in today’s television commercials. Content analysis was chosen as a method of inquiry for this study. Two hundred and twenty six advertisements were recorded from the three chosen networks, ABC, CBS and NBC. No local advertisements or public service announcements were included in the sample. Each advertisement was initially coded for the central figure, whether the central figure was a male or a female. In addition, each central figure in the advertisement was coded for the following categories: 1) age; 2) product use; 3) occupation; 4) voiceover; 5) product representative; 6) stance; and 7) product types. Analysis was performed to determine the extent to which female characters portrayed in these advertisements were subject to stereotypical portrayals. The analysis of the data gathered reveals that portrayals of women in television advertisements in many ways conform to most advertising’s stereotypical portrayals of women (as documented by previous researcher). However, the study provides evidence that the stereotypes associated with women is lessening. The study provides evidence of the emergence of a new trend in some cases toward portraying women and men as equals.

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Chapter I Introduction This study will concentrate on stereotypes associated with women in television commercials. It is safe to conclude that stereotypes exist and are a part of our lives. People act according to these stereotypes because stereotypes are considered socially acceptable. For example, when people think of an advertisement for a household cleaner, what comes to mind, most likely, is a woman. It is also likely that the picture in peoples’ minds corresponds closely to what researchers have called the “happy housewife” stereotype. This is a stereotype that has been associated with the image of women in most print and television advertisements. Since the late 60’s there have been concerns regarding the portrayal of women in the media (Bardwick & Schumann, 1967). Bardwick and Schumann (1976) analyzed the portrayal of women in television commercials and concluded that “to an amazing extent women are preoccupied with dirt, (SIC) the television woman [in commercials] is shown as housebound” (p. 18). People watching televisions are bombarded with images and slogans through advertisements. In a 2000 Nielsen Media Research and Radio Advertising Bureau survey it was found that on average, U.S. households watch more than seven hours of television per day (Albarran, 2000). People memorize slogans and absorb images without questioning them. More importantly people do it without thinking. This is what Gerbner, Gross, Morgan and Signorieli (1980) called the cultivation effect. “The effect of all this exposure to the same

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messages produces what has been called cultivation, or teaching of a common worldview, common roles and common values” (Gerbner, Gross, Morgan & Signorieli, 1980, p.10). According to Gerbner, one of the most common...
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