How Big Is the Gap? Gender Stereotypes in Technology Magazine Advertisements<br />By Jacci Snyder<br />Professor Dixon<br />Gender Roles in Society – Soc 235<br />March 15, 2010<br />
Introduction:<br />We are living in exciting technological times and it seems like everyone is participating. Women under 30 are online more than their male counterparts, and the gender gap in technology is closing. (Kimmel P255) However, even though they scored equally on internet competency tests, women rated their skills lower than men. Perhaps women underestimate their technological skills. (P256) <br />Questions/Hypothesis:<br />How do technology magazines portray the skills of men and women? How often are men and women portrayed in technology magazines.?What are those men and women portrayed as doing? What stereotypes and inequalities exist?Although the gap is shrinking, I believe that technology magazines are mainly geared towards men. <br />Definitions:<br />Kimmel describes sex as “the biological apparatus” of men and women and gender as “the meanings that are attached to those differences within a culture”. (Kimmel Pp2-3) He also defines media as a “gendered institution” which “reflects existing gender differences and inequalities by targeting different groups of consumers with different messages that assume prior existing differences”. (P238) Bollinger’s (2008) definition of gender stereotypes are, “qualities usually attributed to men and women”. The masculine qualities will be understood as strong, powerful, aggressive, competent and successful, while feminine qualities will be understood as supportive, submissive, warm and nurturing. (Bollinger) Also, taking the phrase “sex sells” into consideration, we will be looking at the overall sexualization of men and/or women.<br />
Literature Re viewed:<br /><ul><li> PC World, Popular Photography, Maximum PC – 3 of the top 5 best selling technology magazines of 2009. (magazinecost.com) 4 issues of each between 09/09 – 02/10.</li></ul>Methodology:<br /><ul><li>Included: Pictures or animations of people whose gender could be determined, duplicate ads.
Not Included: Ads featuring robots, pictures of large groups where gender is </li></ul> indefinable, androgynous figures such as shadows, paper dolls, hands, babies in diapers or loosely drawn figures meant to resemble groups of people.<br />Findings:<br /><ul><li> Of the 592 print ads 25% of them (n=150) had gender identifiable people in them.
33% of ads had only women (n=50), 31% featured only men (n= 47), 1 man and 1 woman were represented in 20.6% (n=31), and in groups of three or more, men were the majority 10% (n=15) of the time, while women were the majority 4.6% (n=7) of the time.</li></li></ul><li>What Are Women Portrayed as Doing?<br /><ul><li> Most often represented as children (25.7%) or having no profession/model (25%).
Represented as technology specialists 1.4% and as technology victims (by being technologically challenged or the prey of an internet predator) in 6% of ads.
Women were represented a total of 140 times in 22 different roles.</li></li></ul><li>What Are Men Portrayed as Doing?<br /><ul><li> Most often represented as car mechanics (20%) or as children (12%).
Represented as technology specialists, IT’s or doing electronic repairs in 3% of ads, as technology victims in 1.2% of ads and as cybercriminals/predators in 2.6% of ads.
Men were represented 154 times in 28 different roles. </li></li></ul><li>How Are Girls and Boys Represented?<br />Girls:<br /><ul><li>Most often portrayed in nature or with flowers (25%) or in above the shoulder portraits (22.2%).
Shown with their mothers in 8.3% and with both parents in 5.5% of ads. Not shown alone with their fathers.
Represented by 10 roles. </li></ul>Boys:<br /><ul><li> Most often portrayed in above the shoulder portraits (31.5%) or with both parents (15.8%).
Shown with their mothers in 10.5% of ads. Not shown alone with their fathers.
Represented by 6 roles.</li></li></ul><li>How Are Men And Women With No Profession/Models Dressed?<br />Women:<br /><ul><li>Most often represented in above shoulder portraits (25.7%), nude (22.8%) or in casual clothing (20%).
Shown in business attire in 2.8% of ads,</li></ul>Men:<br /><ul><li>Most often represented in business attire (64.2%), above shoulder portraits (28.6%) or in casual clothing (7%)
Not shown revealing any body parts beyond heads, necks, arms and hands.</li></li></ul><li>Conclusion<br /><ul><li>Using the definitions of masculine and feminine stereotypes described above, I have come to the conclusion that although the technology gap between men and women is getting smaller, technology magazines a geared more toward male readers.
My analysis has led me to see that both genders fit into the stereotypes described by Bollinger. (2008) Women were shown as submissive, supportive, warm and nurturing when portrayed as cheerleaders, mothers taking care of children, women photographing families or children, and victims of technology, whether confused or prey to internet predators. Men also fit into the prescribed stereotypes being strong, powerful, aggressive, competent and successful when portrayed as mechanics, IT and tech specialists, internet predators/cybercriminals, cowboys and involved in sports (football, surfing, swimming, rock climbing). However, women were subjected to being sexualized, where men were not.
If I did this research project again, I would not use duplicate ads, and see how greatly that would affect my results. I would also take the text of the ads into consideration as well.
Bollinger (2008) said, “How gender is represented in computer technology advertisements can have an impact on existing and potential technology users.” Even if men and women are equally as proficient in certain areas of technology, the way people are portrayed to feel about their competency can be affected by media. Perhaps women would not underestimate their technological knowledge if they were portrayed as being equally as competent as men in technology magazine advertisements. </li></li></ul><li>References:<br />Bolliger, D.. 2008. Perceived Gender Based Stereotypes in Educational Technology Advertisements. TechTrends 52, no. 3, (May 1): 46-52. http://www.proquest.com/ (accessed February 8, 2010).<br />Kimmel, Michael. 2008. The Gendered Society, Third Edition. New York,<br /> New York. Oxford.<br />Magazine Cost. 2009. Best Selling and Most Popular Electronics Magazines. Magazine Cost. March 6, 2010. http://www.magazinecost.com/popular-electronics-magazines/<br />