Gender Stereotypes in the Media

Women's stereotypes are created by our society but reinforced by the media from young age to adulthood.

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  1. What is gender? It is impossible to have a wholistic view of gender and gender stereotypes in the media without understanding what gender is. Check out this gender unicorn for gender education in your classroom.
  2. Sadly, many people are uniformed about the spectrum of genders. It's not a binary, it's fluid. This image is a helpful resource for understanding this better.
  3. So....now that general understandings of gender have been established: what are gender stereotypes? How does the media perpetuate these ideas?
  4. Gender stereotypes are "generalizations about the roles of each gender. Gender roles are generally neither positive nor negative; they are simply inaccurate generalizations of the male and female attributes. Since each person has individual desires, thoughts, and feelings, regardless of their gender, these stereotypes are incredibly simplistic and do not at all describe the attributes of every person of each gender." (healthguidance.org) The media both explicitly and subliminally influences the continuation of these stereotypes by its portrayal of women in different media platforms.
  5. These stereotypes against women begin forming at an extremely young age. We all have experiences of girls toys v. boys toys. Stereotypically, girls play with dolls and boys play with trucks. The media influences this stereotype by packaging and marketing certain toys to be appealing to a specific gender. This article discusses Care Bears v. Transformers. At a McDonald's drive-thru a young girl was given a Care Bear in her Happy Meal because it was the "girl's toy" and she couldn't understand why she wasn't given the choice of getting a Transformer, the toy she preferred. This is because McDonald's had predetermined which toy was given to which gender based on the media's marketing of the toys.
  6. There is also the stereotype that women are less important than men. Women are stereotypically more passive than men which in turn gives them a lesser voice. The media continues this stereotype by making men's characters in television more prominent than women's. They have more speaking opportunities and are generally more powerful characters. Women's roles in television are often based on looks and not on voice, as the memes below show.
  7. Women's stereotypes are even carried out in the media through things as seemingly harmless as a board game box. This old school Battleship box shows two men playing the game on it and on the far right you can see the mom and daughter washing dishes in the kitchen while the men play.
  8. The media also creates stereotypical career paths for genders, and women are hardly ever shown advertised as having scientific, mathematical, and technical careers. But women who are engineers are actually using the media to help combat this stereotype by tweeting their photos with the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer (Social media is a great way to campaign against stereotypes, but it is also guilty of perpetuating them as well.)
  9. This meme is another example of using media to help combat media-created stereotypes, such as women "belong in the kitchen." There are countless examples of men in TV shows or movies telling a woman to "go make them a sandwich" (such as the X-Files example below) and this meme is just an example of how social media can be used to counteract these stereotypes.
  10. Make me a sandwich woman!!!
  11. Unfortunately, these stereotypes that we may hold through our exposure to the media can carry on into this classroom. This article describes how boys and girls are treated differently by teachers and the education system as a whole. Women are not only told through the media that they are lesser beings than men, but also in almost all experiences of their life. Educating teachers on the effects of stereotypes in the media and how to dismantle these stereotypes, especially in the classroom can help to empower young females in school!
  12. For more information on gender stereotypes in the media, visit:
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