Ember, Sydney. “For Women in Advertising, It’s Still a ‘Mad Men’ World.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 2 May 2016, www.nytimes.com/2016/05/02/business/media/for-women-in-advertising-its-still-a-mad-men-world.html.
While my group’s research question is centered around gender representation in international television advertising, this article provides insight into the people behind the scenes who are responsible for the advertisements that broadcast on TV and includes testimonies of women who are starting out in the industry and of the scant few who have reached the executive level. Sexism continues to exist very prominently in the advertising industry, which has its influences on the gender representation in advertisement. These advertisements reflect their creators, which are usually white men. While there have been some improvements over the years in the industry, the article ultimately ends less optimistically, noting that there is still a lack of collective action taken to correct gender bias or even completely address it because of how deeply entrenched and aggravating the issue is in the advertising industry. The lack of gender representation in the advertising industry translates to the lack of gender representation in the actual advertisements because of the lack of female voice in the process and development of the advertisements.
Peer reviewed sources:
Luyt, Russell. “Representation of Gender in South African Television Advertising: A Content Analysis.” Sex Roles, vol. 65, no. 5-6, 2011, pp. 356-370. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/880032319?accountid=11107, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11199-011-0027-0.
Luyt uses data from the study to support the hypothesis that there would be differences in gender portrayals in South African television advertisements that reflect the traditional societal roles. South Africa provides an interesting environment for the study because of its long-standing racial inequalities that intersect with other social constructs, such as gender. Luyt found that males were presented as dominant and the primary focus, while females were subordinate and often sexualized. However, the author also points out that the data and current trends point to a gradual shift in the status quo that would require additional research. Some results I found interesting were that females in the advertisements were often young adults, while males were often on the older side. In addition, in comparison to males, females were more often portrayed as middle or upper class, as well as white. The article presents a strong, evidence-based argument about the gender inequalities present in South African television advertising that possibly contributes to the preservation of societal norms about gender roles. As a result, the article ties in nicely with our research question regarding gender representation in international television advertisements, both in comparison to each other and to the United States.
Michelle, Carolyn. “Co-Constructions of Gender and Ethnicity in New Zealand Television Advertising.” Sex Roles, vol. 66, no. 1-2, 2012, pp. 21-37. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/912293673?accountid=11107, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11199-011-0067-5.
This source presents information about the stereotypes in New Zealand television advertising regarding both gender and ethnicity. One of the reasons I chose this paper was because of the intersectionality it presents with gender and ethnicity in New Zealand television advertisements. Much like most other countries, New Zealand has its share of ethnic conflict and diversity. Through the study, Michelle presents evidence that white people dominate advertisements and are often overrepresented, with gender affecting the type of advertisement, fitting with stereotypes about traditional societal roles. While Maori/Pasifika men were stereotyped as athletes and sales workers, Maori/Pasifika women and Asians overall lacked representation in these primetime television advertisements. While the study had some hypotheses supported, such as women being underrepresented as main product representatives, the data shows that overall gender and ethnic stereotypes remain prevalent in New Zealand television advertising. The results from the study indicate how stereotypes continue to reflect traditional social hierarchies in New Zealand.
Mwangi, Mary W. “Gender Roles Portrayed in Kenyan Television Commercials.” Sex Roles, vol. 34, no. 3, 1996, pp. 205. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1308098639?accountid=11107.
This paper has an interesting departure from previous results with there being roughly equal numbers of women and men as main characters in television advertisements, as well as equal numbers of women and men depicted with occupations. These characteristics are generally seen with the television advertisements of more developed countries, which provides a unique comparison with other African countries and with other countries that are culturally and politically different as well. However, the advertisements still displayed confined, traditional gender roles for men and women. Once again, women are more likely to voice-over advertisements for household products and are presented as more passive. Women were also confined to four choices for jobs that reflect the traditional and ideal occupations for educated Kenyan women and tend to have an absence of men in these occupations. As mentioned before, these results reflect those of developed countries in which television advertisements have increased their number of women as main characters but still largely confine them to traditional gender roles. As with other studies in this annotated bibliography, the author stresses the importance of advertising, especially on television, in the formation and perpetuation of stereotypes and barriers to gender equality.
Nassif, Atif, and Barrie Gunter. “Gender Representation in Television Advertisements in Britain and Saudi Arabia.” Sex Roles, vol. 58, no. 11-12, 2008, pp. 752-760. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/225368430?accountid=11107, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11199-008-9394-6.
This paper covers a comparison of gender representation in television advertisements from Britain and Saudi Arabia. This study fits well with our research topic because of the intercontinental comparison of two countries that vary vastly in political climate, social norms, media freedom, etc. A trend with the studies is that women in these television advertisements are often younger and generally portrayed in domestic roles or related to household items. These stereotypes are seen more prominently in Saudi Arabia’s television advertisements, although they are still present in British advertisements to a smaller degree. As with Kenya, there was not a significant difference in the proportion of lead roles held by men versus women across both countries, but stereotypes cropped up when it came to roles, such as occupation, as well as the type of product being advertised. These differences are more evident in Saudi Arabia’s advertising, partly because of the male-dominated society in which women are seen as in need of guardianship.
Nelson, Michelle R., and Hye-Jin Paek. “Cross-Cultural Differences in Sexual Advertising Content in a Transnational Women’s Magazine.” Sex Roles, vol. 53, no. 5-6, 2005, pp. 371-383. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/225366068?accountid=11107, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11199-005-6760-5.
While this article covers differences in female representation in Cosmopolitan magazines across countries instead of differences in television advertising, the study provides interesting data about the role that culture and politics play in the representation of women in media. The study covers seven countries, Thailand, China, Brazil, U.S., India, Korea, and France, that range in their political culture and social norms, which influences the representation of women, especially their sexuality. The East Asian countries, China and Korea, had the lowest percentage of nudity, likely reflecting traditional Confucian values, while Thai and French advertisements had the most. The results for Thailand were a surprise for the researchers because of the authoritarian regime and prominence of religion, though the openness of Buddhism toward feminine sexuality, such as including prostitutes, likely contributes to the unexpected results. Western models featured in magazines from the other countries were also generally portrayed with more sexual imagery, while domestic models were more likely to be associated with products more closely related to the domestic sphere, such as household products. With Cosmopolitan being a Western-based magazine that has now spread because of globalization and the subject of the study, there can be conclusions drawn about how these different variables are interacting in this world that is becoming increasingly smaller because of these interconnections among countries that lead to homogenization while also enforcing cultural differences.