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Pick a research problem on representations of gender or race related to entertainment television which can be investigated using content analysis. Choose and record an appropriate sample of entertainment programmes. Review existing literature on the topic. Develop a coding frame, and define specific categories and codes. Using the coding frame, perform a content analysis. Finally, in the paper present your findings, and compare and contrast to the existing literature in this area.

Pick a research problem on representations of gender or race related to entertainment television which can be investigated using content analysis. Choose and record an appropriate sample of entertainment programmes. Review existing literature on the topic. Develop a coding frame, and define specific categories and codes. Using the coding frame, perform a content analysis. Finally, in the paper present your findings, and compare and contrast to the existing literature in this area.

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An essay for the 2011 Undergraduate Awards (Ireland) Competition by Amy O'Brien. Originally submitted for DN012, Arts at University College Dublin, with lecturer Iarfhlaith Watson in the category of Social Studies
An essay for the 2011 Undergraduate Awards (Ireland) Competition by Amy O'Brien. Originally submitted for DN012, Arts at University College Dublin, with lecturer Iarfhlaith Watson in the category of Social Studies

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 31, 2012
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10/27/2013

 
Amy O’Brien
Assignment:
Pick a research problem on representations of gender or race related toentertainment television which can be investigated using content analysis. Choose and record an appropriate sample of entertainment programmes. Review existing literature onthe topic. Develop a coding frame, and define specific categories and codes. Using thecoding frame, perform a content analysis. Finally, in the paper present your findings, and compare and contrast to the existing literature in this area.
Gender Roles on Entertainment Television: Stereotypes andBehaviours
1.IntroductionAs part of this research project, I decided it would be interesting to analyse gender in relationto entertainment television. I soon learned that there are many wide-ranging articles relatingto issues of gender and television. Particularly, I quickly became interested in the stereotypesand behaviours associated with different genders in television programmes. An extremelyuseful article I found was Ahlstrand’s
Gender Stereotyping in Television Advertisements
(2007) which documented the stereotypes which emerge in television advertising. This studywas conducted by means of a coding frame and a content analysis, which was very helpful.Another article I discovered was Long, Boiarsky and Thayer’s article:
Gender and racial counter-stereotypes in science education television: a content analysis
(2001). Herechildren’s science education programmes were analysed with regard to gender and race, withan emphasis on stereotypes. The nature of this study inspired me to research a current sciencerelated, television programme aimed at a more mature audience – “The Big Bang Theory”.With this television show, the main male characters are geeky scientists who take pride intheir work and are comfortable being socially inept. The main female character in the show isa waitress, who is portrayed as blonde, ditzy, funny and smart when it comes to pop culture.Already a clear pattern can be observed; the males are presented as superior, more intellectual beings while the female character is inferior and less intelligent. I chose this television programme as it seems likely that through the development of a coding frame and a contentanalysis, it will be interesting to determine if particular stereotypes and behaviours of thecharacters gender, especially with regard to their level of education or profession, exist.
 
Amy O’Brien
2.Statement of Research Question/ HypothesesI aim to analyse how gender identity is constructed with regard to a number of variablesincluding career choice, and how this can lead to stereotypical representations of theseindividuals.Hypothesis 1: I expect to learn that the majority of occupations will fall within the high levelof profession/education. Furthermore, I imagine that there will be distinct stereotypesobserved with regard to these characters and their behaviour.Through content analysis I endeavour to examine the male to female ratio among charactersin a particular occupation group, to learn more about which is the more dominant group andhow they are represented.Hypothesis 2: Butler and Paisley (1980:93) say that “in television programs, men are moreoften employed than women and have higher-status jobs”. I anticipate that, in keeping withthis research, within the higher professional/education group, the majority of characters will be male. I think that females will be portrayed in the lower profession/education group.I intend to investigate these hypotheses by developing a coding scheme and using contentanalysis. The coding scheme will examine gender, age, physical appearance, location,occupation, role, activity, status, personality and social interaction.3.Literature ReviewFrom reading various articles and research relating to this topic, I can see that there appearsto be specific stereotypes associated with certain professions. These stereotypes arereinforced in Ahlstrand’s ‘Gender Stereotyping in Television Advertisements’. She writeshow “women are underrepresented...as central characters” while “men, on the other hand,often play a dominant role” (2007). It emerges in this article that “one way or the other, menand women in television advertisements are portrayed following traditional gender stereotypes”. Additionally, Ahlstrand outlines how television may be a “reflection of howgender roles are manifested in society”. Other interesting points raised in this article include
 
Amy O’Brien
how traditional masculine roles are typically associated with males including certain professions as pilot, doctor, engineer and manual worker while feminine traditional roles areservice workers, including waitress. I think this is interesting information, especially whenstudying a TV show such as ‘The Big Bang Theorywhich addresses these types of  professions.In ‘Gender and Racial Counter-Stereotypes in Science Education Television: A ContentAnalysis’ (2001) Long, Boiarsky and Thayer analysed characters in children’s scienceeducation television shows. Long et. al. developed some preliminary hypotheses: 1. Males aremore likely to be portrayed as scientists than are females. 2. Male scientists will be older thanfemale scientists. 3. Caucasian male scientists will have higher status (as indicated by their dress and knowledge) than will female scientists and minority scientists. Their preliminaryanalysis in general, did not reinforce the stereotype of scientists.However, they re-analyzed their hypotheses using all characters, not just those labelled asscientists. Hypothesis 1 predicts that more characters will be male than will be female, whichwas supported. Across all characters, males significantly outnumbered females. The secondhypothesis predicted that male characters would be older than female characters. Their analyses supported this hypothesis to a degree; there was a significant relationship betweengender and age. And the final hypothesis received little support. These hypotheses weresomewhat similar to the ones I developed so I found this study very helpful.Glascock’s study ‘Gender Roles on Prime-Time Network Television: Demographics andBehaviours’ (2001) analyses gender demographics and behaviours on network prime-timetelevision. This article states how “previous research of television programming has shownthat males and females have often been portrayed in stereotypical ways”. From previousstudies, it appears that females are underrepresented in TV shows, and mostly dominated bymen.The results of this study show that “males outnumber females”. All differences betweenmales and females for the variables coded were significant for total shows. In terms of theoccupation results, males were portrayed as police officers and professionals. Females werealso portrayed as police officers, but also nurses, secretaries and waitresses. With regard to job status, males were twice as likely to be depicted as superior to females (i.e. bosses).

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