Gender in Media: How women are portrayed in Media?

(An example of how magazines photoshop their models to achieve an ‘ideal woman’)

Media has evolved overtime and throughout the years women’s presence in media has increased but stereotypes still remains.

Women’s role in society has been improving but it didn’t change much. Though this is a modern society we still live believe in patriarchy . Men are still seen as the dominant gender in society. This is reflected by the presentation of women in media. Prejudice and expectations of how women should act or “look” in society still exists. Women are expected to be subordinate to their counter male counterparts. Women still do not have the equal rights and the access to education and career like men do.

Society can affect the development of a person. Societal pressure such as gender roles are enforced on us since we were at a young age. Females are expected to be ‘housewives’ and ‘mothers’ while men are expected to do be “financial providers, career focused, assertive and independent”(Wolska, M 2011) People are expected to adhere to the roles that the society has put upon them. According to Pilcher & Whelehan “Gender shapes roles, behaviours and expectations around what it means to be a man (masculine) or a woman (feminine).” Therefore gender reflects our social norms and the behaviours of our society.

Living in capitalist society, both genders male or female needs to find ways to earn an income as our society rarely follows the typical nuclear family structure where males provide for their families while the women stays at home to take care of the children. It was just from recent years that women are recognised in the workforce however their occupation is not as equally prestige as men according to Bassett “the number of women occupying positions of power, prestige and leadership within their fields remains low” (Bassctt, 1985). This is evident in the newsroom were male reporters are assigned to have harder news or more serious news while “female reporters are frequently relegated to soft news stories, like health and entertainment news, whereas their male counterparts are given stories of political and international importance.” (Purvis 1967)

Moreover male sources are also seen as more knowledgeable and more reliable than female sources. Both gender relies on male reporters as expert sources this study illustrate the “female underrepresentation as reporters and sources, probably continuing a perception of women as being in a lower social status than men.” (Purvis 1967) studies also show that “although young reporters’ credibility was not influenced by age, the older, male reporters were considered to be the most credible reporters”(Weibel, Wissmath, & Groner, 2008). Though it is not until the 1960s and 1970s when women journalists breakthrough the gender gap to report real stories according to Hosley & Yamada, 1987. Today, women still struggles to have equal benefits that men are granted in the workplace however they have been successful in journalism. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, only 13% of reporters were women, whereas today about half of reporters are women according to (Irvin 2013)

How women are portrayed in literature and film

Childhood influences the development of gender identity and ideologies. According to a research “gender representation in children’s literature has revealed persistent patterns of gender inequality, despite some signs of improvement since Weitzman et al.’s (1972) Recent studies continue to show a relative absence of women and girls in titles and as central characters (e.g., Clark, Lennon, andMorris 1993; Hamilton et al. 2006), findings that mirror those from other sources of children’s media, including cartoons and coloring books (e.g.,Fitzpatrick and McPherson 2010; Klein and Shiffman 2009). Children’s literature provides valuable insights into our popular culture, stratification, and socialization. A consistently unequal males and females roles in children’s literature thus reinforces children’s gender identities and ideologies.

A study of advertisement conducted by Goffman in 1979 showed how women were portrayed in society and in media. Majority of the women in the advertisements were often depicted as someone who looks fragile and being sexy, they would often be touching themselves with their hands on their faces, thighs or necks. These represent women as vulnerable, sexually available and delicate.

Gender inequality in our society is continuing to improve in recent years in contrast of gender roles in the past were women has no rights at all. This has dramatically changed as the media is also changing. Media is evolving and portrayal of women can also change. It might take a few more years to change this gender gap but who knows… The only thing we can do is by educating everyone.

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