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Representations of Gender and Age in Television Commercials: A Content Analysis
Unformatted Document Text:  Gender & Age in Commercials 3 Representations of Gender and Age in TV Commercials: A Content Analysis The representation of females on television has been the subject of well over 100 scholarly articles in the past three decades. The amount of interest this topic has generated reflects the academic community’s deep-seated concern with inequitable gender representations and sex role stereotyping. Although comparisons between early and recent studies indicate that the frequency and variety of roles for females has improved over the years, current TV programming remains dominated by White males under forty (Children Now, 2001). Content analyses continue to show that television under-represents females and commonly depicts them holding jobs and engaging in behaviors that remain stereotypic (Coltrane & Messineo, 2000; Signorielli & Kahlenberg, 2001). Although progress has been made, by most accounts these advances have been fairly disappointing (Allan & Coltrane, 1996; Bartsch, Burnett, Diller & Rankin, 2000). Given that advertisements are the lifeblood of the television industry and saturate the viewing experience, commercials’ portrayals of females have received considerable scrutiny. Examinations of commercials have revealed blatant disparities between how men and women have been represented, the products with which they are associated, the roles they perform, the behaviors they enact, and the settings in which they are shown (Coltrane & Adams, 1997; Craig, 1992; Fullerton & Kendrick, 2000; Hong, 1997; Kaufman, 1999; Lin, 1997; Signorelli, McLeod, & Healy, 1994 ). One pattern of gender representation in commercials that has been documented repeatedly over the years but only summarily addressed is the limited age characterization of females compared to the wider and typically older age characterization of males (Furnham & Mak, 1999; Roy & Harwood (1997). Although most commonly shown as adults, male characters have been depicted in abundance from youth through the elder years in ads, while female characters have appeared most heavily as young adults (Fullerton & Kendrick, 2000; Furnham & Mak, 1999). Consequently, depictions of girls and older women in commercials have been far less prevalent than those of boys and older men (Atkins, Jenkins, & Perkins, 1991; Brown, 1998; Heimstra, Goodman, Middlemiss & Vosco, 1983; Larson, 2001; Roy & Harwood;

Authors: Mastro, Dana. and Stern, Susannah.
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Gender & Age in Commercials
3
Representations of Gender and Age in TV Commercials: A Content Analysis
The representation of females on television has been the subject of well over 100 scholarly
articles in the past three decades. The amount of interest this topic has generated reflects the academic
community’s deep-seated concern with inequitable gender representations and sex role stereotyping.
Although comparisons between early and recent studies indicate that the frequency and variety of roles
for females has improved over the years, current TV programming remains dominated by White males
under forty (Children Now, 2001). Content analyses continue to show that television under-represents
females and commonly depicts them holding jobs and engaging in behaviors that remain stereotypic
(Coltrane & Messineo, 2000; Signorielli & Kahlenberg, 2001). Although progress has been made, by
most accounts these advances have been fairly disappointing (Allan & Coltrane, 1996; Bartsch, Burnett,
Diller & Rankin, 2000).
Given that advertisements are the lifeblood of the television industry and saturate the viewing
experience, commercials’ portrayals of females have received considerable scrutiny. Examinations of
commercials have revealed blatant disparities between how men and women have been represented, the
products with which they are associated, the roles they perform, the behaviors they enact, and the settings
in which they are shown (Coltrane & Adams, 1997; Craig, 1992; Fullerton & Kendrick, 2000; Hong,
1997; Kaufman, 1999; Lin, 1997; Signorelli, McLeod, & Healy, 1994 ).
One pattern of gender representation in commercials that has been documented repeatedly over the
years but only summarily addressed is the limited age characterization of females compared to the wider
and typically older age characterization of males (Furnham & Mak, 1999; Roy & Harwood (1997).
Although most commonly shown as adults, male characters have been depicted in abundance from youth
through the elder years in ads, while female characters have appeared most heavily as young
adults
(Fullerton & Kendrick, 2000; Furnham & Mak, 1999). Consequently, depictions of girls and older women
in commercials have been far less prevalent than those of boys and older men (Atkins, Jenkins, & Perkins,
1991; Brown, 1998; Heimstra, Goodman, Middlemiss & Vosco, 1983; Larson, 2001; Roy & Harwood;


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