Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigationThe scenarioYou are on work experience at the online shopping company ...
Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigationAimsExplain that you are/were hoping hoped to find out the answer to t...
Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigationFindings and analysisThis section should give a detailed and organised...
Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigationGender representation in noun pre-modifiers analysis   •   What might ...
Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigationEvaluationIn this section you review how good you think this piece of ...
Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigationTASK 1Start by skim reading the two sets of gift description texts (‘G...
Language, gender and online shopping       An investigation       Type of product: male data setName of product           ...
Language, gender and online shopping       An investigation       Type of product: female data setName of product         ...
Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigation   •   How many types of product are there in the data set?Gifts for M...
Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigationTASK 2Now compare ‘male’ and ‘female’ items of the same product type t...
Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigation  Product                           Male data set                 Fema...
Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigation   Product                           Male data set   Female data set  ...
Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigationTASK 3Follow the instructions in the separate document ‘How to generat...
Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigationSemantic fields diagram sheetMale data setGive each box the name of a ...
Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigationSemantic fields diagram sheetFemale data setGive each box the name of ...
Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigationWord classes classification sheet – male data setThis is a traditional...
Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigationWord classes classification sheet – female data setThis is a tradition...
Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigationThinking about noun pre-modificationThen you need to check how the nou...
Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigationWhen adjectives appear as pre-modifiers they can create very different...
Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigationBack to the dataSo, you need to work through all of the nouns in your ...
Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigationPre-modifier classification sheetSort the pre-modifiers you have ident...
Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigationPre-modifier classification sheet – teachers’ notesThis resource is de...
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Gender advert workbook

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Transcript of "Gender advert workbook"

  1. 1. Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigationThe scenarioYou are on work experience at the online shopping company which marketsits gift products on www.giftinspiration.com.The Marketing Director has received a letter of complaint which argues thatthe ‘Gifts for Men’ and ‘Gifts for Women’ webpages are a morallycontemptible misrepresentation of men and women, and that the productdescriptions use language in an unacceptable sexist manner.The Marketing Director is very surprised as the Customer Testimonials havealways been extremely positive: these can be viewed on the website. Waryof sensitivity surrounding matters of social justice, and keen to do the rightthing as far as possible within a commercial context, s/he wants to know ifthe allegations have any substance.S/he asks you to investigate the complaint and to report back with yourfindings. Your report can be a written document or a verbal presentation.This complaint is a serious concern to the company, so the evidence must bewell documented and your conclusions clear.IntroductionWrite a short introduction to your research project. The audience for this isthe Marketing Director of www.giftinspiration.com. Start by making briefnotes under these headings if you find it helpful to do so: • Some reasons why this investigation is important for the company. • Any ideas about the nature of online shopping that help to explain why getting the marketing language right can be a difficult task. • How the investigation might help the development of the website.Data descriptionGive basic factual information about the data you are investigating. • You are investigating short product descriptions designed to sell gift items on an online gift shopping website, specifically items on webpages entitled ‘Gifts for Men’ and ‘Gifts for Women’. State how many product descriptions are in each data set. • Where and when was the data collected? (Give the URL and the date accessed.) • Was the data collected with the consent of its owner?© 2007 www.teachit.co.uk 8057 Page 1 of 22
  2. 2. Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigationAimsExplain that you are/were hoping hoped to find out the answer to thisquestion:• Is the representation of men and women in the ‘gifts for men’ and ‘gifts for women’ webpages sexist?Then explain that this is broken down into two smaller questions, as follow.Write in some brief notes under each question, explaining what answers youexpect/expected to find. We will compare the ‘real’ answers afterwards.This process is called forming a hypothesis and is an important part of aresearch project. You mustn’t worry that what you write here will be‘wrong’. The whole point of research is to test ideas out to find the truth.• What stereotypes and assumptions about male and female behaviour and interests do the product descriptions appeal to?• How do the product descriptions use language in gendered ways?MethodologyExplain how you did your research. The basic facts are given below, but youshould add some detail to each of these as you work through the tasks. Youshould try to say something about the merits of these methods. Be aware ofany limitations of these methods as you complete the tasks as this will behelpful for your evaluation.Question 1: What stereotypes and assumptions about male and femalebehaviour and interests do the webpages appeal to? 1) Identified how many of the product descriptions belonged to each product type to determine if there were any gendered patterns [TASK 1 below]. 2) Compared ‘male’ and ‘female’ items of the same product type to determine if there were any gendered patterns [TASK 2 below].Question 2: How do the product descriptions use language in gendered ways? 1) Corpus investigation to generate Keyword Lists for both data sets [TASK 3 below]. 2) Investigation of keyword lists for both data sets to explore interesting patterns of gender differences and to test these against key markers of language and gender according to popular beliefs and research ideas. [TASK 4 below].© 2007 www.teachit.co.uk 8057 Page 2 of 22
  3. 3. Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigationFindings and analysisThis section should give a detailed and organised analysis of yourdiscoveries. This means saying what you discovered as clearly as possible,but also explaining what you think it means, what is interesting about it, orwhy it matters. You could use charts, tables and screenshots to help makesome of your points clear. This section should be divided into sub-sectionswith relevant headings to make it easier for your readers to follow yourexplanation. You should start by summarising your thoughts in response tothe bullet points under each of the headings below. You could go on to usethese as headings in your report, but feel free to change them in ways thatbetter suit your findings.Gender representation in range and frequency of product types • What might it be reasonable for an online shopper to expect in terms of this aspect of gender representation? • What patterns of gender representation have you observed in the data under this heading? • What is interesting about your observations? Why are they important? What do they mean? In answering these questions think about the challenge of marketing products to online shoppers.Gender representation in products of the same type • What might it be reasonable for an online shopper to expect in terms of this aspect of gender representation? • What patterns of gender representation have you observed in the data under this heading? • What is interesting about your observations? Why are they important? What do they mean? In answering these questions think about the challenge of marketing products to online shoppers.Gender representation in semantic fields analysis • What might it be reasonable for an online shopper to expect in terms of this aspect of gender representation? • What patterns of gender representation have you observed in the data under this heading? • What is interesting about your observations? Why are they important? What do they mean? In answering these questions think about the challenge of marketing products to online shoppers.© 2007 www.teachit.co.uk 8057 Page 3 of 22
  4. 4. Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigationGender representation in noun pre-modifiers analysis • What might it be reasonable for an online shopper to expect in terms of this aspect of gender representation? • What patterns of gender representation have you observed in the data under this heading? • What is interesting about your observations? Why are they important? What do they mean? In answering these questions think about the challenge of marketing products to online shoppers.ConclusionsExplain to the Marketing Director the conclusions you are able to draw fromyour analysis. To do this, go back to the original question(s) and considerwhat answer(s) you can now give.You might like to consider how accurate your hypotheses were. Be open-minded: don’t force the data to fit what you hoped to see. If yourconclusions weren’t what you expected, discuss why you think this may bethe case. In giving your conclusions, it is appropriate to be tentative. Duetentativeness could come from: • mentioning any biases the methodology may have produced, for example that you were working with a very small data set, and without any comparison with other online gift marketing websites • touching on different ways the same findings could be interpreted by other peopleIn an ‘applied’ language investigation of this kind, you should then presentrecommendations for action, based closely on your conclusions. You couldput these under a new heading.In this case, summarise for the Marketing Director any points about websitecontent and style that you would recommend any changes to, in order toimprove the company’s public image in relation to gender representation.You could do this in bullet-point format if you like. (Busy directors willalways read this page first, so make sure it’s good but very quick and easyfor them to read!) You should include one product description from eachdata set rewritten in a more appropriate style.Alternatively, if you believe no changes are necessary to website content orstyle, summarise the key arguments you would recommend in order torespond to the letter of complaint. You could do this in bullet-point formatif you like, or you could write a draft letter for the Marketing Director toedit.© 2007 www.teachit.co.uk 8057 Page 4 of 22
  5. 5. Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigationEvaluationIn this section you review how good you think this piece of research was.Start by making some brief notes in response to each of these questions. How good was the data we used? (ie the product descriptions texts) Where there any limitations with the analytical method we used? What have you learned that you think might be useful for futureresearch projects?© 2007 www.teachit.co.uk 8057 Page 5 of 22
  6. 6. Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigationTASK 1Start by skim reading the two sets of gift description texts (‘Gifts for Men’and ‘Gifts for Women’) to identify what sort of product each set contains.Use the table of product types below to help you and record your findings inthe tables that follow.You could check your answers on the Gift Inspiration website(www.giftinspiration.com) but be warned of two things (1) their electronicclassification allows for multiple tagging whereas this paper data recordsheet encourages you to choose one product type and (2) the website isupdated periodically and the data may not match what is in this resource.Product types (adapted from the classification used onwww.giftinspiration.com)Extra rows are provided in case you want to need to add to theclassification. You could code these for ease of reference, giving each acolour or symbol, for example.Gift Hampers Wine GiftsGarden Gifts Pampering GiftsGifts for the Home Jewellery GiftsChocolate Gifts Photo AlbumsChampagne Gifts Leather GiftsWhisky Gifts Gifts to DrinkFurther on in this activity, you will need to calculate some percentages.Here is how (in case you’ve forgotten…).Calculating percentagesFormula Number of products in the set of that type X 100 Total number of products in that setExample 2 chocolate gifts X 100 = 10% 20 products in male data set© 2007 www.teachit.co.uk 8057 Page 6 of 22
  7. 7. Language, gender and online shopping An investigation Type of product: male data setName of product Type of product Name of product Type of product Leather Golf BallThe Scotch Whisky Holder, Golf Balls &Hamper TeesPewter Tankard & Real Leather Gold BallAle Hamper Marker PouchEngland or Scotland Aspirin CufflinksCufflinksGolf On The Go Hamper Happy Birthday HamperHunters Flask & Cups Mini Texas Hold ‘Em Poker GameMalt Whisky Cake Leather Driving Licence WalletMacallan 10 Years Old ‘Worlds Best Dad’Single Malt Whisky Chocolate GiftLeather Wash Bag The Scotch Whisky HamperBath and Body Essentialsfor Men Gift BoxBanoffee ChocolatesThe Beer GameGolf or Fishing Hobby ina Box!Brandy Glass Warmer,Brandy Glass & MartellCognac © 2007 www.teachit.co.uk 8057 Page 7 of 22
  8. 8. Language, gender and online shopping An investigation Type of product: female data setName of product Type of product Name of product Type of productMake-up Bag & Organic ‘Hot Hunk’ Hot-WaterPamper Kit for Hands BottleDiamond & Silver Open Belgian ChocolateHeart Necklace HeartsLeather Jewellery Roll Leather Travel WalletRelaxing Lavender Bath Organic & GorgeousGift Box Weekender Gift BoxChampagne & Chocolate Lilac Handblown GlassTruffles Scent BallThe Great Big Garden The Chocolate PassionHamper Hamper‘Forget Me Not’ Pocket Heart Hot-Water BottleGardenLeather Bag for Make Up Bear Bearing Chocolates& BrushesThe Afternoon Tea Bone China Tea for OneHamper SetSemi-precious Stones Chocolate GrandNecklace Marnier Cake‘World’s Best Mum’ Breakfast Coffee orChocolate Gift Afternoon Tea Gift SetOrganic & Gorgeous Happy Birthday HamperScented Candle Gift BoxFrench Hot Chocolate Chablis Premier Cru inPot Gift Set Presentation BoxOrganic & GorgeousPampering Gift Box © 2007 www.teachit.co.uk 8057 Page 8 of 22
  9. 9. Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigation • How many types of product are there in the data set?Gifts for Men Gifts for Women • What percentage of the product descriptions in the data set belong to each product type?Product type % in male data set % in female data setGift HampersGarden GiftsGifts for the HomeChocolate GiftsChampagne GiftsWhisky GiftsWine GiftsPampering GiftsJewellery GiftsPhoto AlbumsLeather GiftsGifts to Drink© 2007 www.teachit.co.uk 8057 Page 9 of 22
  10. 10. Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigationTASK 2Now compare ‘male’ and ‘female’ items of the same product type to determine if there are any gendered patterns. An examplehas been filled in to get you started, though feel free to amend/improve this (you may, for example, disagree with thisclassification of product types). Product Male data set Female data set Notes and questions type Gift Hampers Garden Gifts Gifts for the Home Chocolate Gifts© 2007 www.teachit.co.uk 8057 Page 10 of 22
  11. 11. Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigation Product Male data set Female data set Notes and questions type Champagne Gifts Whisky Gifts Wine Gifts Pampering 1) Bath & body essentials gift 1) Make-up bag & organic More items for women. Could suggest women Gifts box pamper kit for hands are airheads only interested in mindless 2) Relaxing lavender bath gift activity like ‘pampering’; or greater need for box relaxation due to the burden of modern 3) Organic & gorgeous women’s lives?? What does it suggest about pampering gift box men? Are these products still seen as an 4) Organic & gorgeous affront to masculine identity? weekender gift box Jewellery Gifts© 2007 www.teachit.co.uk 8057 Page 11 of 22
  12. 12. Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigation Product Male data set Female data set Notes and questions type Photo Albums Leather Gifts Gifts to Drink© 2007 www.teachit.co.uk 8057 Page 12 of 22
  13. 13. Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigationTASK 3Follow the instructions in the separate document ‘How to generate a corpusgender keyword list’. Print off the two lists this creates, one for malekeywords and one for female keywords. Alternatively, your teacher mayprovide you with these lists. Either way, read them carefully and get toknow the data. You could print off or photocopy a couple of copies of eachlist so that you keep one clean ‘reading’ copy, and one ‘working’ copy youscribble thoughts and ideas over, colour code, and whatever else helps youget to know the data well.TASK 4You now need to investigate the keyword lists for both data sets to exploreinteresting patterns of gender differences and to test these against keymarkers of language and gender according to popular beliefs and researchideas. A Keyword list can help you to see some things more clearly, butlooking at the whole texts will reveal other interesting patterns andobservations. Start by working through these activities, but don’t be afraidto experiment with other approaches and to explore other interesting linesof enquiry.1. Semantic fieldsA popular idea about language and gender is pithily summarised in thepopular self-help book title ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’.This suggests that men and women have completely different world views,and it is a popular belief that this reveals itself in male and femalediscourse in the predominance of different semantic fields. Test this byclassifying each data set (male data set, and female data set) intosemantically related groups of words. You could use the semantic fieldsdiagram sheets on the next pages to help you with this. Examples are givento guide your thinking.© 2007 www.teachit.co.uk 8057 Page 13 of 22
  14. 14. Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigationSemantic fields diagram sheetMale data setGive each box the name of a significant semantic field for which you haveidentified at least three words in the keyword data set. You could writethese in too, or list them separately. Add as many boxes as you need. SPORT & GAMES Poker, golf, tees Male data set© 2007 www.teachit.co.uk 8057 Page 14 of 22
  15. 15. Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigationSemantic fields diagram sheetFemale data setGive each box the name of a significant semantic field for which you haveidentified at least three words in the data set. You could write these in too,or list them separately. Add as many boxes as you need. LUXURIOUS finest, organic, indulgent, Handmade Female data set2. Pre-modification of nounsAnother popular idea is that female discourse is more ‘flowery’ or more‘descriptive’ than male discourse. It can be difficult to pinpoint whatpeople mean when they say this, but for the purposes of this investigationwe can focus on how the nouns in each data set (all gift items) are pre-modified. Start by sorting the words in each data set into their wordclasses. You may be given sets of cards with the male/female words on tomake the process of sorting easier. You could use the word classesclassification sheets on the next two pages to document this.© 2007 www.teachit.co.uk 8057 Page 15 of 22
  16. 16. Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigationWord classes classification sheet – male data setThis is a traditional word classes classification. It is not the only approachand it has its limitations, not least in this activity because nouns andadverbs can pre-modify nouns in the same way that adjectives do. Thereare two sources of information that can help you identify the word class of aword: a good dictionary will help you narrow the range of options down, as asingle word can belong to more than one word class (eg, in ‘take a walk’walk is a noun, but it is a verb in ‘I walk to school’); looking back at theword in its original context(s) may clarify its specific use in the example(s)we are considering. This task will take detective work and judgement.Remember that you are not working with every word from the texts, onlythose that are significantly marked in contrast with the other data set.NOUNS ADJECTIVESVERBS ADVERBSCONJUNCTIONS PREPOSITIONSPRONOUNS DETERMINERS© 2007 www.teachit.co.uk 8057 Page 16 of 22
  17. 17. Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigationWord classes classification sheet – female data setThis is a traditional word classes classification. It is not the only approachand it has its limitations, not least in this activity because nouns andadverbs can pre-modify nouns in the same way that adjectives do. Thereare two sources of information that can help you identify the word class of aword: a good dictionary will help you narrow the range of options down, as asingle word can belong to more than one word class (e.g. in ‘take a walk’walk is a noun, but it is a verb in ‘I walk to school’); looking back at theword in its original context(s) may clarify its specific use in the example(s)we are considering. This task will take detective work and judgement.Remember that you are not working with every word from the texts, onlythose that are significantly marked in contrast with the other data set.NOUNS ADJECTIVESVERBS ADVERBSCONJUNCTIONS PREPOSITIONSPRONOUNS DETERMINERS© 2007 www.teachit.co.uk 8057 Page 17 of 22
  18. 18. Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigationThinking about noun pre-modificationThen you need to check how the nouns are working. To do this you need toknow a little bit about noun phrases and their structures.A noun phrase is the little cluster of words that form the subject or objectof a sentence, the thing that is doing the verb or having it done to it insimple examples, or the thing or idea that is, seems, feels and so on in morecomplex examples. Here is a simple example: The dog barkedThe green highlighted text is a verb (technically, speaking a verb phrasebecause the verb ‘bit’ can be more than one word, e.g. is barking), theyellow highlighted text is a noun phrase. The noun phrase can be analysedfurther as it contains more than one word. The dog‘dog’ is a noun and ‘the’ is a determiner.We could add more description to our noun phrase. The enormous dog‘enormous’ is an adjective which pre-modifies the noun. ‘Pre’ means itcomes before the noun, and ‘modifies’ means it changes our perception ofit. We hit ‘enormous’ before we encounter ‘dog’ and our perception of thedog is shaped by the word that comes before it.We could add other words as pre-modifiers.More adjectives: The enormous white dogAn adverb: The really enormous white dogAnother noun: The really enormous white plastic dogIf we need to, we can distinguish between the role the noun ‘dog’ is playingin this phrase, and the role the noun ‘plastic’ is playing here, by calling‘dog’ the head noun and ‘plastic’ a premodifying noun.A verb form: The really enormous white plastic grinning dogGot that? When nouns appear as pre-modifiers they can tend to create amore factual style of description. Hold on to that thought.© 2007 www.teachit.co.uk 8057 Page 18 of 22
  19. 19. Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigationWhen adjectives appear as pre-modifiers they can create very differentstyles, depending on their nature. One way of classifying these is to dividethem into these three types:Descriptive adjectives which give factual detail of the material property of an object e.g. size (‘large’), shape (‘round’), colour (‘blue’), texture (‘rough’).Evaluative adjectives which either state or imply a judgement of whether something is good or bad, e.g. ‘good’, ‘bad’, ‘ugly’, ‘beautiful’, ‘skinny’, ‘funny’.Emotive adjectives which express an emotional attitude, often adjectives that have been bleached of any very specific meaning, e.g. ‘fabulous’, ‘horrendous’, ‘amazing’.As with most attempts to classify language, it is difficult to apply thissystem ‘cleanly’ to every adjective, but it does give a starting point forstylistic analysis. A more factual style is more likely when a greaterfrequency of descriptive adjectives is used; a more judgemental oremotional style is more likely with the other two types of adjectives ingreater frequency. It is a popular belief that male discourse is likely to bedominated by a more factual style and female discourse by a moreemotional style.The linguist Robin Lakoff contributed to this view with the idea from herobservational research that women use more ‘empty’ adjectives (largely thesame as our ‘emotive’ classification) and also more ‘intensifiers’ (adverbssuch as ‘really’).These are all issues to investigate in our gender data sets.© 2007 www.teachit.co.uk 8057 Page 19 of 22
  20. 20. Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigationBack to the dataSo, you need to work through all of the nouns in your two data sets, and findout whether they are operating as the head noun in the noun phrase, orwhether they are pre-modifying a head noun. Here are two examples fromthe data sets.Example 1 steel Male data setsteel might be regarded on the keyword list as a head noun but closerinvestigation in context reveals that this is used as a pre-modifier in nounphrases such as stainless steel flask (Hunters Flask & Cups), where flask isthe head noun, premodified by stainless and steelExample 2 silk Female data setsilk might be regarded on the keyword list as a head noun but closerinvestigation in context reveals that this is used as a pre-modifier in nounphrases such as exquisite silk packaging (Organic & Gorgeous Pampering GiftBox), where packaging is the head noun, premodified by exquisite and silkWhen you have sorted the nouns out, make a list of all the pre-modifiers ineach data set. Then complete the pre-modifier classification sheet,amending or improving it as you see fit.© 2007 www.teachit.co.uk 8057 Page 20 of 22
  21. 21. Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigationPre-modifier classification sheetSort the pre-modifiers you have identified from the keyword lists into these categories. Feel free to amend/improve thisapproach. Male data set Female data set Comments and questionsNouns as pre-modifiersAdverbs as pre-modifiersDescriptiveadjectives as pre-modifiersEvaluate adjectivesas pre-modifiersEmotive adjectivesas pre-modifiers© 2007 www.teachit.co.uk 8057 Page 21 of 22
  22. 22. Language, gender and online shoppingAn investigationPre-modifier classification sheet – teachers’ notesThis resource is deliberately ‘holey’. It includes classification of the data, but only some initial thinking points in the‘comments and questions’ column. These are not exhaustive, the ideas need development, and they are contestable – the pointis to show how the task gives rise to some interesting lines of enquiry. It is not a set of ‘answers’. Male data set Female data set Comments and questions Popular ideas about language and genderNouns as pre-modifiers Malt would have it that male discourse will contain more nouns as pre-modifiers Popular ideas about language and genderAdverbs as pre- would have it that female discourse Really, twomodifiers would include more frequent use of ‘really’ as an intensifying pre-modifierVerbs as pre-modifiers Relaxing, soothing Interesting difference in colour palettes; Stainless, steel, green, Scented, handmade,Descriptive adjectives interesting contrast between metallic metal, tan, black, lavender, long, pink, blue,as pre-modifiers fabrication in male data set and luxury complete, single, highland hot, organic fabrication in the female data Interesting contrast betweenEvaluative adjectives as Great, good, smart Indulgent, beautiful monosyllabic words in male data set andpre-modifiers polysyllabic words in female data set…Emotive adjectives as Fabulous, lovely, wonderful, Reinforces Lakoff’s assertion aboutpre-modifiers gorgeous ‘empty’ adjectives and female discourse? Not enough data to support a strongSuperlative adjectives claim but perhaps in line with Lakoff’s Finestas pre-modifiers assertion about intensifiers and female discourse© 2007 www.teachit.co.uk 8057 Page 22 of 22

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