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Representations of Gender and Age in Television Commercials: A Content Analysis
Unformatted Document Text:  Gender & Age in Commercials 18 receiving orders, and no significant differences emerged between males and females in terms of how active they were in the commercials. However, age appeared to make a difference in some characterizations. Among males, middle- aged adults (n=159, 22.0%) and seniors (n=8, 15.7%) were order givers χ 2 (12, N = 1332) = 108.44, p < .001. In contrast, among females, 14.3% of middle-aged adults (n=52) were order givers, but not a single senior female gave orders χ 2 (12, N = 935) = 58.49, p < .001. In terms of activity level, although a significant interaction did not emerge, analysis of variance findings revealed a main effect for both age F(4, 2292)=41.30, p<.01 and sex F(1, 2292)=8.39, p<.01. Among males (M=2.98), young adults (M=2.69) were most active, and seniors (M=3.38) were least active. Among females (M=3.02), teenagers were most active (M=2.46) and seniors (M=3.32) were least active. Discussion Portrayals of Females Overall, this study found little evidence that the image of females in television advertising is improving. Perhaps the most glaring inequity is that male characters still outnumber female characters. Although the disparity in this sample was smaller than in a few recent studies (Allan & Coltrane, 1996; Brown, 1998; Riffe, Goldson, Saxton & Yu, 1989), it was greater than several others (Bretl & Cantor, 1988; Coltrane & Messineo, 2000; Larson, 2001; Lin, 1997; Riffe, Place & Mayo, 1993; Signorelli, McLeod & Healy, 1993). At a time when females comprise a slightly larger part of the real-world population (US Census Bureau, 2001), this under-representation of females is both unrealistic and demeaning . Moreover, when examined from the perspective of social cognitive theory, this under- representation suggests to females that they are less consequential than males. The even larger discrepancy between male and female voiceovers adds proverbial salt to this wound. For every two voiceovers delivered by a male, only one voiceover was delivered by a female.

Authors: Mastro, Dana. and Stern, Susannah.
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Gender & Age in Commercials 18
receiving orders, and no significant differences emerged between males and females in terms of how
active they were in the commercials.
However, age appeared to make a difference in some characterizations. Among males, middle-
aged adults (n=159, 22.0%) and seniors (n=8, 15.7%) were order givers
χ
2
(12, N = 1332) = 108.44, p <
.001. In contrast, among females, 14.3% of middle-aged adults (n=52) were order givers, but not a single
senior female gave orders
χ
2
(12, N = 935) = 58.49, p < .001. In terms of activity level, although a
significant interaction did not emerge, analysis of variance findings revealed a main effect for both age
F(4, 2292)=41.30, p<.01 and sex F(1, 2292)=8.39, p<.01. Among males (M=2.98), young adults
(M=2.69) were most active, and seniors (M=3.38) were least active. Among females (M=3.02),
teenagers were most active (M=2.46) and seniors (M=3.32) were least active.
Discussion
Portrayals of Females
Overall, this study found little evidence that the image of females in television advertising is
improving. Perhaps the most glaring inequity is that male characters still outnumber female characters.
Although the disparity in this sample was smaller than in a few recent studies (Allan & Coltrane, 1996;
Brown, 1998; Riffe, Goldson, Saxton & Yu, 1989), it was greater than several others (Bretl & Cantor,
1988; Coltrane & Messineo, 2000; Larson, 2001; Lin, 1997; Riffe, Place & Mayo, 1993; Signorelli,
McLeod & Healy, 1993). At a time when females comprise a slightly larger part of the real-world
population (US Census Bureau, 2001), this under-representation of females is both unrealistic and
demeaning
.
Moreover, when examined from the perspective of social cognitive theory, this under-
representation suggests to females that they are less consequential than males.
The even larger discrepancy between male and female voiceovers adds proverbial salt to this
wound. For every two voiceovers delivered by a male, only one voiceover was delivered by a female.


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