Gender in the Media

This project is concerned with studying different types of media and the advertising found in these media. The issue of Gender in advertising is very prominent in the world today. In all types of advertising, from TV to billboards, gender is used as a device to gain attention and this is usually achieved by the use of stereotyping. I have chosen this particular area of study because I feel that gender, especially in the form of sex, is exploited in advertising. It seems to me that advertisements often rely on gender to sell products, either by exploiting sexual imagery, or by persuading the viewer that their life would be better, or that without the predicts the individual may in some way be inferior. I feel that these tactics, although effective, can create gender stereotypes, some of which may be negative.
In the past, advertising stereotyped men and woman into specific gender roles. Manstead and McCulloch identified these in their study of TV advertisements. They stated that males were portrayed as powerful, dominant, rational, interested in DIY, more likely to be the central character and be the ‘voice over’. They continued to state that women were portrayed as mothers and housewives, users of products rather than sources of information about them. This practice still continue as seen in the Strongbow ‘Live to Loaf’ adverts which portray men as living for football and beer.
Nowadays, however, advertising has become more playful and ‘tongue-in-cheek’, e.g. The ‘I’m every Woman’ Super Noodles advert showing men in dresses singing. This advert is entertaining in a playful and amusing way, but still with effective use of gender. Past studies like that of Singer (1986) have focused in on women and how advertising portrays them. They may, therefore seem to have forgotten about how men are portrayed. For this reason I will not only be looking at women in advertising but also at how advertising portrays men. My overall aim for this research is to investigate the extent of the stereotyping of gender in advertising. However, within this overall aim, I have two objectives that I need to achieve in order to complete my study.

The first is to investigate how gender advertising works to portray gender. I will achieve this through the use of Content Analysis. I chose this objective because by looking at particular types of advertising instead of advertising in general, I will be able to look at their specific differences, if any. By splitting advertising up my work is broken down into more manageable pieces. The second objective is to investigate the effect of stereotyped roles on the public and this will be done through questionnaires and/or interviews. The view of the public is important to my research. Questionnaires/Interviews allow me to look at how advertising affects the views of people and if they agree or disagree with the current advertising tactics.
I expect to find that, through my research, there is a pattern of the roles portrayed in advertising and that men and women in adverts typically play certain roles. I also expect to find that the public are aware of the use of stereotyping and yet are still influenced by them. Although I will be trying to be as reliable as I can in displaying evidence of gender portrayal in advertising, I am aware that I may sometimes cloud the truth with my own views and feelings. This means that my personal bias may cause my research to be slightly unreliable. This is not unusual in qualitative research but needs to be kept in mind.

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