English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Tag: #childrenstelevision

(RE)SEARCHing on the QUEST(ION) for Answers: Gender Within Parental Careers in Disney Channel

How are gender stereotypes associated with occupation reflected in the careers of parental figures and mentors in Disney Channel Original Series that have aired since 2000?

Prior to researching, as we all grew up watching Disney Channel in the early 2000s, we were interested to see how these shows may have influenced our own perceptions and biases. During our research, we were shocked to learn about the frequency at which children watch television; it is the strongest source of cultural socialization outside of a child’s own parents. The themes and social interactions portrayed on television are directly linked to what children will deem as normal. Thus, we chose to focus on children’s TV, as the information being conveyed has a stronger influence on their biases and perceptions of gender than it does on adults.

There was an abundance of information about the effects of parental mediation of television and parents’ careers on children, but minimal information about what the careers of fictional parents are portraying and the effect of that on children. Thus, we believe the adults whom younger characters look up to for advice and counsel will reflect on the beliefs of real children. Children’s values are being formed through the respected adults they encounter in real life, so it would be reasonable to assume that the same would apply to the adults they encounter on television. Furthermore, children will assume that they should behave like the role models they see on television. Therefore, if adults of the same gender behave like their gendered stereotypes, children will feel the need to adhere to these stereotypes, and expect those behaviors from their peers.

We chose to focus on shows created after 2000 because we discovered that shows created prior to 2000 frequently relied on characters that were stereotypically masculine or feminine, and we wanted to see if that held true into the turn of the century. We are planning to analyze the data in two ways: the average salary of the jobs held by role models and their job’s alignment with traditional gender stereotypes.

This research matters because the perceptions of gender stereotyping of the future generations are directly impacted by the shows that they watch. Children are easily affected by these stereotypes, and gender norms are already firmly established in their minds by the time they are 5 years old. The first step in eliminating stereotypes is to show the next generation an equal and fair world that doesn’t submit to gender stereotypes. If children are surrounded by stereotypes, they will associate them with normality, and will be less likely to notice inequality in the world and work to change it. People have commentated on the effect of seeing stereotypes on television, but few have analyzed specific shows to see if children are being exposed to stereotypes in the form of the careers of fictional parents. Through this research, we hope to gain a better understanding of how reflective the careers of adults in children’s television are to the real world. We also hope to expose where gender stereotypes are prevalent in television so that audiences can be more proactive about changing them.

Work Cited:

Durkin, Kevin, and Bradley Nugent. “Kindergarten Children’s Gender-Role Expectations for Television Actors.” Sex Roles, vol. 38, no. 5, 1998, pp. 387-402. ProQuest http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/225373743?accountid=11107

Witt, Susan. (2000). “The Influence of Television on Children’s Gender Role Socialization.” Childhood Education, 76(5), 322-324. http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/210380519?accountid=11107.


Gender Representations in Childrens TV: Annotated Bib

Source 1:

Rousseau, Ann, et al. “A Short-Term Longitudinal Exploration of the Impact of TV Exposure on Objectifying Attitudes Toward Women in Early Adolescent Boys.” Sex Roles, 2018, doi:10.1007/s11199-018-0925-5.

This study examined how television affects the way adolescent boys understand gender stereotypes and whether it leads them to understand men as the dominant role and objectify woman. Following the suggestion that children are more likely to enjoy consuming media that reflects the environment they are raised in, the study also examined how their parents relationship in addition to the tv they watched affected their understanding of gender. The study found that parents did not monitor shows on trusted children’s channels, however, the tween television content did indirectly contribute to the development of stereotypical attitudes toward women and men. It also found that parents have strong influence over whether or not these opinions develop and can buffer them by monitoring the shows or exemplifying a respectful egalitarian relationship.  While this study was conducted in Belgium, it does look to understand western culture and studies channels such as Disney and nickelodeon that american children consume. This is a useful study because the experiment not only speaks to the specific topic being researched but it expands it to include multiple factors that influence the way children’s media affects young boys understandings of gender.

Source 2:

Gerding, Ashton, and Nancy Signorielli. “Gender Roles in Tween Television Programming: A Content Analysis of Two Genres.” Sex Roles, vol. 70, no. 1-2, 2013, pp. 43–56., doi:10.1007/s11199-013-0330-z.


This study researched 49 episodes of 40 shows produced with the intended viewership of tweens in the United States. The shows were chosen if they fell into one of two categories which were geared toward the opposite genders: “teen scene” (for girls) and “action-adventure” (for boys). By comparing characters personalities, roles, conversations, and appearances, the study discovered that the action shows were disproportionate in their gender representation, having many more male characters than girls. The teen scene shows, however had equal representation. In the teen scene shows there was little stereotypical behavior and the girl and boy characters had similar personalities. All of the girls in the show were attractive and cared about their appearance whereas the guys had varying levels of attractiveness. The study determined this to mean that the message shows send to kids id that “females can participate in everything that males can, but while doing so they should be attractive and should work to keep up this attractiveness”. This article is very useful because the study was study was well conducted and it speaks directly to the issue we are looking at. It comments on how children’s television has progressed however it still contains flaws.  

Source 3:

Martin, Rebecca. “Gender and Emotion Stereotypes in Children’s Television.” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, vol. 61, no. 3, Sept. 2017, pp. 499–517. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/08838151.2017.1344667.


This study researched both educational and non educational children’s television shows and examined the prevalence of emotional stereotypes. The study took 4 of each genre and examined the use of anger, sadness, fear, and happiness. It found that overall the shows include more male characters than female, a trend that continues throughout the years studied. The study also found that the male characters exhibited stronger emotions in all of the four categories. This result demonstrates that the shows tend to portray counter-stereotypes, especially in the entertainment shows. This study was not very useful because it looked at only 8 shows over a broad time span, such as Magic School Bus from 1994 and Curious George from 2006. The show also only looked at shows on minor networks, which are viewed by less of the population, and it did not look at how this affects the kids viewing it and whether or not it instilled any beliefs in them.

Source 4:

Campbell, Olivia. “Why Gender Stereotypes In Kids’ Shows Are A REALLY Big Deal.” Refinery29, Refinery29, 5 Dec. 2017, www.refinery29.com/kids-shows-gender-roles-stereotypes.


This article describes the problems facing childrens TV and how it can cause kids to form stereotypical understandings of gender. It references how many shows have more boys than girls, and that the boy characters are usually the heroes with a purpose and how female characters are often pushed aside and given “weaker” roles. The article argues that parents need to educate their kids that girls and boys are equal and can accomplish anything they want. While this article makes interesting points, it is not usable due to its inflammatory rhetoric and consistent use of logical fallacies. The article uses strong language to upset its readers and get them on its side. The author makes drastic assumptions, which are arguably not entirely false, such as the claim that spousal abuse and sexual assault are caused by sexism in our society and this sexism is in part caused by childrens TV. In short, children’s TV leads to violence.

Source 5:

Sarah Banet‐Weiser (2004) Girls rule!: gender, feminism, and nickelodeon,
Critical Studies in Media Communication, 21:2, 119-139, DOI: 10.1080/07393180410001688038

This piece looks at Nickelodeon children’s shows with female leads to decipher whether or not girl power is treated as a lucrative market strategy or if the shows actually succeed in providing pure feminist ideals. By focusing on a handful of major TV shows, the study finds that the channel urges both girls and boys to question the stereotypical gender narratives. The author argues that the girl power narrative behind these shows is one that parallels Third Wave feminism and that the shows offer a diverse variety of characters that demonstrate that women are contributing and worthwhile members to society. This article is usable because it studies one of the most popularly viewed children’s channel and dissects the controversial way that its feminist message is presented. It would be helpful to know more about how these messages are being understood by children as the piece mainly focuses on adult criticisms.

Source 6:

Bowman, Sabienna. “’Girl Meets World’ Is A Feminist Triumph.” Bustle, Bustle, 25 Apr. 2018, www.bustle.com/articles/175843-how-girl-meets-world-quietly-became-one-of-tvs-most-feminist-shows

One of the strongest feminist shows on television is the children’s show Girl Meets World. The story follows two best friends who come from drastically different homes, Maya and Riley, in their middle school and highschool years. It tackles many subjects that most children shows will not touch such as cultural appropriation, bullying, and STEM not being promoted for girls. The strength in the girls friendship is what makes the show such a feminist inspiration and it does what other shows fail to. The conflict of the second season is that the two girls have a crush on the same boy, however, Disney does not let the show follow stereotypes by going into stereotypical catfights to handle this love triangle. Instead the issue is put aside and friendship is prioritized in a happy resolution. The respect the women of the show have for each other and the effort they put in to help raise each other up is one that is inspiring, especially for developing young viewers. This article is useful because it gives an example of a powerfully feminist show on children’s media and the positive way it addresses social issues, giving direct examples of its strengths.

Citations On The Role Of Gender Stereotypes In Children’s Television: Annotated Bibliography

Bickford, T. (2015). Tween intimacy and the problem of public life in children’s media: “having it all” on the disney channel’s hannah montana. Women’s Studies Quarterly, 43(1), 66-82. Retrieved from http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1665109811?accountid=11107  *

This peer-reviewed source explores the concept of the “tween,” the age cohort between childhood and the teenage years. The source delves into the discussion about how tweens in the United States have a misrepresented image in children’s television. Bickford examines how gender stereotypes affect the image of the tween in America, and it is presumed that tweens are girls who regularly consume children’s media. Bickford utilizes Hannah Montana to argue that even the protagonist, a tween pop star living a double life, is having trouble “having it all” in her public and private life. This source relates how the hyper-feminized view of tweens is negatively affected by the notion of “having it all,” where women are expected to have control over both their public persona as well as their private image. The source argues that adult women in the media are treated as social minors, whereas tweens in the media are eroticized for their childhood innocence. This peer-reviewed source is relevant because it reinforces how female gender roles in children’s television mirror the unequal representation of a woman’s life in the general media.


Breed, Lisa, et al. “Variations in the Gender‐Stereotyped Content of Children’s Television Cartoons Across Genres.” The Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering, Wiley-Blackwell, 31 July 2006. Retrieved from onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1559-1816.2002.tb02767.x. **

This study examined how gender role stereotypes are projected across four different genres of cartoons, such as traditional adventure, nontraditional adventure, educational, and comedy. While certain behaviors of aggression were not as present in educational cartoons than in the other genres, the study deduced that male characters were still at the forefront of the storylines across all types of cartoons. The study found that male characters were more represented and had more leverage in the plot of the cartoons than the female characters, and the stereotypical male behavior of aggression was emphasized in the adventure cartoons. The study also supported the notion that female characters were mainly employed as the love interest or supporting character, rather than significant, plot-progressing characters. While this source tends to be redundant with its findings on male representation over female in children’s cartoons, the source does add a specific criteria of cartoons to highlight the differences of representation across the genre. Despite the specificity, the source continues to bolster the fact that female characters are misrepresented in children’s media, which can perpetuate into future generations.


Browne, B. A. (1998). Gender stereotypes in advertising on children’s television in the 1990s: A cross-national analysis. Journal of Advertising, 27(1), 83-96. Retrieved from http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/236627552?accountid=11107 *

This peer-reviewed source is a study on how gender stereotypes are perpetuated through advertising on children’s television. In the analysis, gender stereotypes were observed in advertisements that aired on children’s television in the United States and Australia. The goal of the study was to examine how often gender stereotypes are projected through these commercials, and if there was any difference between the children audience in the United States and Australia. The study found that there was relatively little difference in the projection of gender stereotypes in these advertisements between the two countries. The source argues that on a consistent basis, boys were viewed as more knowledgeable and dominant than girls were viewed, regardless of the country. Therefore, this source contains relevant information because it supports the notion that children’s programming inherently perpetuates gender stereotypes that diminish girls’ value. The source is valuable because it has concrete evidence in the misrepresentation of girls in children’s media. This peer-reviewed source supports the idea that this gender bias affects the fabric of the general media in that women are continually portrayed as less than men.


Chandler, E. (2016). “I never wanted to be an ashley!” androcentrism and gender entitlement in disney’s recess. Gender Issues, 33(2), 148-162. Retrieved from doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12147-016-9154-9 *

This peer-reviewed source tackles the idea of androcentrism in the range of normal childhood femininity. Chandler utilizes Recess, a popular Disney cartoon, as the prime example of how androcentric characters do more to harm the image of femininity in childhood than help it. The source describes how in one episode, Ashley Spinelli, a “tomboy,” does not like her name because it is associated with the girly-girl Ashleys of the school. Spinelli’s inhibition to accept her name relates to the source’s argument that androcentrism is an alternative way to downplay femininity as cruel and vile. The source acknowledges how perceived masculinity in girls is a better life than embracing their femininity, which is relevant to the gender stereotypes in children’s television as it is. This peer-reviewed source adds a crucial point in the representation of gender in children’s television because it tackles how masculinity is always perceived as better than femininity. This source proves that rather than embrace themselves for who they are, children view masculinity as the best way to live their lives.


Morgan, M. (1982). Television and adolescents’ sex role stereotypes: A longitudinal study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 43(5), 947-955. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.43.5.947 **

This study analyzed the relationship between sex-role stereotypes and television viewing in a sample of 349 middle-school aged children over two years. The study was conducted to determine if television viewing did impact the children’s sex-role attitudes as well as the difference in attitudes between boys and girls. The study concluded that television viewing greatly affected the sex-role attitudes of the girls, whereas the boys were seemingly unaffected by television viewing in their attitudes towards gender norms. However, this source does add a unique perspective to gender representation in children’s television because the study includes the socio-economic background of these boys and girls. Lower-class girls were found to have consistently similar views to the boys while the more affluent girls reacted much more strongly to the television viewing. The study adds a significant point that those who are least likely to have traditional sex roles, such as upper class girls, were impacted much more by the television viewing than everyone else. This source reinforces that girls are much more influenced on their sex-role attitudes by television, but it also adds how socio-economic status can differ the attitudes within girls themselves.


Thompson, T.L. & Zerbinos, E. Sex Roles (1995) 32: 651. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01544217 **

This source describes a study that sought to examine the evolution of gender roles in animated cartoons within a twenty year span, from the 1970s to the 1990s. The study observed the behaviors, communication, and overall significance of male and female characters in these selected cartoons. The study found that male characters were still a dominating force in the story and significance of the cartoon, and they wielded much more of the total speaking lines and screen time than the female characters. The source describes how within the twenty year span, there was little change in how male characters are portrayed in cartoons as compared to the female characters. However, the source also acknowledges that the roles of female characters in these selected cartoons has grown in significance from the 1970s to the 1990s, even though the evolution was miniscule. This source provides a unique representation of gender roles because it examines the stereotypes within cartoons, which are ultimately made by men and women. The projection of the real world societal stereotypes in children’s cartoons supports the inherent disparity of gender representation in children’s television.



**=not peer-reviewed

How Children’s Television Represents Gender (Annotated Bib)

Mitchell, Danielle. “Producing Containment: The Rhetorical Construction of Difference in Will & Grace.” Journal of Popular Culture, vol. 38, no. 6, 2005, pp. 1050-1068. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/195371059?accountid=11107.

In this article, Mitchell rails against the prime time show Will & Grace for its acceptance of current norms of inequality and oppression. Her argument is similar to that of Myers regarding non-hegemonic male characters (see second source); that rather than acting as a role model for progress away from hegemonic and heterosexist ideals and norms, the depiction of homosexual characters in Will & Grace serves to reinforce these values by ridiculing characters who deviate from norms. In addition, Mitchell argues that Will & Grace has characters ridicule themselves in order to make the ridicule palatable to audiences who would normally find it offensive, and that it fails to truly represent racial minorities and lesbians by only having characters who represent those demographics make brief, token appearances.

This article definitely has a stance, and sticks to it. Mitchell intends the article to point out problems with Will & Grace’s representation of its characters, and focuses her analysis of the show in ways that support her argument. However, the article is still valuable due to its discussion of class and race divides within the LGBT community and its analysis of how those divides are being portrayed on prime time television.


Myers, Kristen. “”Cowboy Up!”: Non-Hegemonic Representations of Masculinity in Children’s Television Programming.” Journal of Men’s Studies, vol. 20, no. 2, 2012, pp. 125-143. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1023443734?accountid=11107.

In this article, Myers argues that “non-hegemonic male characters” in children’s television programs serve to reinforce hegemonic masculinity. She defines these characters as being males who are “not domineering, competitive, or sexually predatory” and clarifies that they comprise the majority of male characters in the studied shows. These shows are Suite Life on Deck, Hannah Montanna, Wizards of Waverly Place, and iCarly; from the Disney and Nickelodeon networks. The core of Myers’s argument is that rather than serving as role models of nontraditional gender hierarchy, these characters are subject to constant ridicule due to their failure to domineer other characters or otherwise assert their masculinity. Thus they ultimately reinforce that a successful male must put others down to maintain a role of power.

This source provides not only examples of children’s television perpetuating unhealthy gender roles, but also provides insight into how hegemonic masculinity is maintained within peer groups. The “Masculinities: Theory and Practice” section of this article notes that by age 10-11 boys have already identified that there is a relevant hierarchy of status among males in which one must prove oneself suitably masculine to advance. This hierarchy — and enforcement of it — lead to homophobic behaviors and oppression of individuals who do not conform to the cultural ideal of masculinity.


Newsom, Victoria A. “YOUNG FEMALES AS SUPER HEROES: SUPER HEROINES IN THE ANIMATED SAILOR MOON.” Femspec, vol. 5, no. 1, 2004, pp. 57. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/200081515?accountid=11107.

In this article, Newsom dissects the concept of “girl power” and the gendered messages in Sailor Moon. She argues that Sailor Moon incorporates feminine characteristics into characters whose roles are historically associated with males, and therefore that it is part of third wave feminism. The main characters are girls who are strongly marked as feminine through emotional expression, behavior towards stereotypical subjects of teenage female attention such as make-up and crushes, and sexualized outfits. Meanwhile they fill the role of heroism historically reserved for male heroes: they defeat foes of monstrous proportions with supernatural abilities.

Newsome argues that the entire concept of “girl power” is based on a contradiction. It is intended as a “pleasure-centered form of empowerment,” and yet the manners in which it is depicted act counter to female empowerment, because characters who embody girl power are limited to young, slender, physically powerful, attractive girls. Newsome claims links between this unhealthily limiting image and the rise of eating disorders and other attempts at body alteration among female youth in the US.

This article provides information relevant to any research question about anime and shows aimed at young girls. It also highlights key differences between Japanese and American versions of the show and ways in which the American version was censored. It discusses sexualization of female characters in television and the male gaze. Additionally, it explores how an attempt at empowerment can exclude many people who do not fit a specific image.


Romo, Vanessa. “’Supergirl’ Casts First Transgender Superhero On Television.” NPR, NPR, 24 July 2018, www.npr.org/2018/07/23/631693257/supergirl-casts-first-transgender-superhero-on-television.

In this radio episode on NPR, Romo discusses the casting of Nicole Maines as the first transgender superhero on television in the show ‘Supergirl.’ Maines successfully sued her school district in Maine for the right to use the girls’ restroom after the school system had a “bodyguard” follow her around to ensure she used the staff restroom. The article also mentions Scarlett Johansson dropping a starring role as a trans character after public backlash and a general trend towards casting transgender actors for trans roles. In the words of Nicole Maines, this helps “show that we [transgender people] are valid in our identities and we exist.”
This article covers a new development in gender representation on television which is too recent to be covered in peer-reviewed articles. This article also provides a complement for the article by Newsom which discusses girl superheroes in an animated show, while this article centers around a live-action show.


Ulaby, Neda. “Working Women On Television: A Mixed Bag At Best.” NPR, NPR, 18 May 2013, www.npr.org/2013/05/18/184832930/working-women-on-television-a-mixed-bag-at-best.

In this radio episode from Weekend Edition Saturday on NPR, Ulaby discusses the various degrees to which women in the workforce are depicted on television. She reveals that children’s television portrays women as employed at a far lower rate than prime time television. In children’s programming “81 percent of jobs are held by men,” whereas almost half of female characters in prime time television are employed, which matches up with real-world percentages. However, very few of these characters have children, which contrasts with the 60% of real-life working women who have children.

This episode provides many useful metrics about portrayal of women in careers by television, which will be helpful in finding what questions have already been answered in order to ask a new question for our research. Additionally, it features interview snippets with an actress, a showrunner and a network president which provide insight into how the gender of a show’s main character affects its success.


Weida, Courtney L. “Gender, Aesthetics, and Sexuality in Play: Uneasy Lessons from Girls’ Dolls, Action Figures, and Television Programs.” The Journal of Social Theory in Art Education (Online), vol. 31, 2011, pp. 1-25. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1323178403?accountid=11107.

In this article, Weida analyzes many different ways in which Girls’ Dolls are played with and the learning implications of each of these methods of play. Additionally, she analyzes gendered messages in television shows Buffy The Vampire Slayer, South Park, and She-Ra. Rather than taking a direct stance on debates surrounding the media she is analyzing, Weida explores the various ways in which children subvert the expectations of advertisers and parents in playing with or viewing dolls and television, and the potential effects of these alternatives on the development and learning of the child.

Much of this article focuses on dolls, which are not inherently within the scope of our research. However, there is a recent television show about the barbie dolls. If this show is within the scope we choose for our question then the discussion of barbie dolls in this article will provide useful background information. The discussion of the aforementioned television shows and how they portray characters such as Willow from BTVS and Jimmy from South Park who are inherently unique and different from what is culturally considered normal has potential to be useful even if the Barbie shows are not within our chosen scope.

Gender Representation Within Children’s Television Annotated Bibliography

Boboltz, Sara. “TV Still Perpetuates A Whole Mess of Gender Stereotypes.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 12 September 2017, www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/tvgender stereotypes-boxed-in-report-2017_us_59b814cce4b02da0e13cac47.

        This source offers basic insight on the ways in which women’s activities are portrayed on television. By analyzing over 4000 characters across a wide, diverse range of television shows, the author discovered that women are still disproportionately overrepresented in personal roles, such as being wives or mothers. Thus, male characters are left to fill the work-oriented roles. One counterpoint the author addressed is within “The Handmaid’s Tale”, where women’s lack of workplace jobs is hyperbolically used to emphasize the lack of women’s rights. However, she argued that this representation, even when the aim is to ridicule the current treatment of women, is still perpetuating and reinforcing gender roles. Furthermore, the author attributed the high frequency of stereotypically gendered jobs on television to the lack of women working on these shows behind the scenes. When women are employed in the creative teams behind the shows, the representation of women increases to equal the actual proportion of women in the US. This source offers insightful, albeit superficial, analysis on women’s jobs on television shows. The source only focuses on television as a whole, and thus misses the potential discrepancies across networks or genres. This source is beneficial for its confirmation of the suspicion that television shows generally rely on harmful gender stereotypes when creating characters.


Durkin, Kevin, and Bradley Nugent. “Kindergarten Children’s Gender-Role Expectations for Television Actors.” Sex Roles, vol. 38, no. 5, 1998, pp. 387-402. ProQuest http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/225373743?accountid=11107.

        This research confirms that kindergarten aged children are already aware of gender stereotyping and can guess the gender of a television character based on the type of activity being performed. The children answered with strong correlations to traditional stereotypes for both male and female activities and as they age, their responses align more strongly towards stereotypical gender roles. This study found that both young boys and girls found their gender roles to be rigid. This demonstrates that from an early age, children are aware of social expectations and internalize them, which then affects how they view their own competence within the world. As for where these expectations stem from, the authors argue that television is a strong contributor as children watch such a high amount of television that it forms a portion of their own reality. However, there are weakness associated with this data: this only covered a special case for the children and may not be reflective of their general viewing attitudes. Given the source’s focus on how children’s gender expectations affect their television viewing and the high-quality composition of the source, it offers helpful insight on how children can be socially conditioned by television.


Faniyi, Oluwakemi. “Gender Roles in Children’s Television.” The Odyssey Online, 28 August 2017,www.theodysseyonline.com/gender-roles-in-childrens-television.

This source argues that due to the high amount of time children spending watching television, especially during their formative brain development years, television grooms children to align themselves with specific gender roles. Through constant reinforcement, children learn to accept gender stereotypes are they are portrayed in the media, specifically television. This creates many adverse effects for children; lack of gender representation may give children the idea that female stories are not important, furthermore, stereotypical gender representation can affect opinions about occupations or interpersonal relationships. Although this source specifically focuses on the skewed representation of gender in the media and the adverse effects on children, the analysis in terms of the effect on children is weak. It contends that children are negatively affected by these gender roles on television, but it never explicitly clarifies what these expectations are. However, it offers apt analysis that explains how children are affected by gender stereotypes in the world around them, including television.


Jennifer, Aubrey, and Kristen Harrison. (2004). “The Gender-Role Content of Children’s Favorite Television Programs and its Links to their Gender-Related Perceptions.” Media Psychology, 6(2), 111-146. http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/230043335?accountid=11107.

This study discovered that in 1st and 2nd grader’s favorite television shows, male lead characters far outnumber female leads and female characters were far more likely to exhibit stereotypical characteristics (defined here as “attractive” and “frail”). This creates a circular problem with representation, as girls see more male characters, so they choose male characters as role models, but boys do not see female characters, thus they are unable to pick female role models. This encourages network executives to continue making shows with primarily male leads as they are more popular. From the analysis based on cartoons, it was most common for programs to create gender-neutral or gender counter-stereotypical programing, this includes having male characters more likely to cry or follow orders. Although female characters conformed to gender stereotypes based on appearance, their general actions and plot importance was about equivalent to the male characters. This source offers insightful analysis that specifically focuses on gender stereotyping in children’s television through multiple approaches. However, there are still limitations with the data itself, as it only analyzed six television shows, from two networks, so the sample was not representative of all television watched by children. The analysis is invaluable because of its multiple approaches to the problem of gender representation – emotional attitudes, numerical representation and appearance, which will be useful lenses for future analysis.


Johnson, Fern, and Karren Young. (2002). “Gendered Voices in Children’s Television Advertising.” Critical Studies in Media Communication, 19(4), 461-480. http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/220423928?accountid=11107.

This source argues that children’s advertisements are geared to the gender stereotype that they envelop – “boy” toys are accompanied with an aggressive male voice, and the voiceover for “girl” toys is a sing-song female voice. These voices are clearly caricatures to adults, but to children they can be directly interpreted, leading to a rigid understanding of gender roles. Furthermore, when the language used in these ads is analyzed, the verbs utilized with young girl audiences are associated with emotions, and the verbs for boys are linked to destruction and action. In particular, the portrayal of the genders is different within the television ads – girls are seen in bright colors and in groups, engaging in trivial activities like gossip; the boys are in black and white, and are generally doing something active. These television commercials continue to rely on polarizing gender stereotypes because they have been effective in selling products and allow an acclimation to the gendered world of adult products. This research gives strong evidence for the total immersion of children into gender roles, as commercials, generally thought of as background entertainment, are enlisting the same stereotypes present within regular programming. This source offers apt analysis about how language, images, and voices are used to promote gender stereotypes. Even though commercials is not a primary focus for this research, it still offers high quality, well-thought out criteria and analysis for where gender stereotypes can be identified in the media.


Witt, Susan. (2000). “The Influence of Television on Children’s Gender Role Socialization.” Childhood Education, 76(5), 322-324. http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/210380519?accountid=11107.

Television is one of the strongest social influences that children experience, and they mirror the behavior and expectations that are portrayed on television. Perceptions and biases are established over time through constant reinforcement, so if children only see women nurses on television, this can become a steadfast, stereotypical belief in the minds of children. When children see males portrayed as decisive and assertive, and females portrayed as passive or subordinate, children begin to believe these are appropriate behaviors for the genders. This is especially problematic when television does not mirror the real world; an unequal workforce, an intense emphasis on relationships for women, and a majority of young, attractive women, establishes expectations that are not reflective of real life. This article is a great example of the power of television in regard to children’s socialization and alignment with gender stereotypes. It is important to understand the implications of what children watch and how that creates a worldview which will eventually lead to biases and prejudices.

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