Thursday, February 5, 2015

Media Portrayal of Women in Jobs

credit to Wikimedia Commons
from the collection of The National Archives (United Kingdom)
With the accelerating pace of development of technology, media plays an important role in our daily life. It not only provides us information about what’s happening in the world around us, but notice that this might be opinionated facts, which affect our values towards real life little by little. When the Universal Declaration of Human Right first came out in 1948 in Paris, genders were set to be equal. However, nowadays, gender discrimination becomes a common phenomenon and problem in different degrees and areas. Does media portray women in ways that contribute to job discrimination? From a study done by Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, “Prime-time females are still not on par with prime-time males in the number of clout positions held across.” It’s true that women’s image in mass media contributes to job discrimination. This bothers me a lot because in where I come from, China, the gender discrimination is a common phenomenon but a severe problem. There’s always news about some companies saying “no female needed” or “only two females needed while male has the priority to get this job” on their advertisements. It makes me really angry when I see those advertisements.

Since stereotypes of women in jobs are widely used through all kinds of mediums, they definitely contribute to job discrimination in some degree. According to the article Gender Stereotype in Mass Media, senders usually use stereotypes which “evoke certain association” in order to draw attention from viewers with different cultural backgrounds. It’s a common physiological phenomenon for people to be friends with somebody who is similar to themselves. Media makers use this same strategy, which is to add stereotypes on screen, to get more positive feedback. It does work for people because they sometimes believe in what they see. “One of the ways to change the attitude towards women could be through the change in portrayal of women in media and advertising,” says a study. It shows that more than 95% of people in India think that there are at least some changes in portrayal of women in advertising. In response, data from the United States Department of Labor shows that it increased from 48% in 1993 to 57% in 2013. By putting these two statistics together, how media portray women does affect inequality in jobs.

Kids are now becoming a main target of commercials, because young groups spent more time in front of screens from younger ages. Few people notice that different types of medias are portraying an inequality in men and women because it’s regularly shown on family screens. If people have seen something since they were very young, and their parents do not point out what’s wrong, they will truly believe in it and will accept the behavior just like that. In another study, it points out that about 50% of family films and 39% of children’s TV show are extremely male centric. Also, in family films, there are a few occupations that have huge differences in percentage by gender, such as military (8.3%) administration (8.9%) and professional (16.5%). This means that there are certain expectations for women to do a few particular kinds of jobs that are better for women. These stereotypes would contribute to choice of job in the future for girls, as when they thought what their favorite character was or what most girls were.

Some people might say that women don’t work as well as men in certain areas, both because of the different biological structure of the human body and different mindset, and the media is just reflecting truths. For example, “women still face substantial barriers to entering the construction field”, “Women Earn Less Than Men, Especially at the Top” and so on. This is not right because males and females might work in a different process towards the same target, but it doesn’t mean that the effect and complete degree will be different. So people should give women a chance to see how they can perform in male-dominant jobs. Also, there should not be certain limitations in occupation for genders, as none of the jobs are designed for only males or females. That means, under the same condition, a man’s opportunity of getting a job, which is considered to be best for males and not suitable for females, should not be greater than a woman’s. Although more women just started to expose jobs, the distinct percentage difference in some particular types of job is still surprising. Part of the reason is because the stereotypes about female shown on screen, that brainwashed people’s own value of what women are supposed to be. Even though those producer are not obligated to get rid of stereotypes in their products, it’s not responsible for them to do that since this will mislead their audience.

In a word, media does portray women in ways that contribute to job discrimination. First of all, producers use stereotypes in media in order to get common association between customers and actors, which will be beneficial for themselves so that they can make more profits. From what I see on tv, a lot of the time women are either housewives or other “popular” jobs for women such as artist or shop assistants. Also, inequality films, tv shows on the family screen viewed by kids are also one of the factors that affect the future choice, or affect current data. I remember all those cartoons about superhero, the hero is always male and female is always the weak one that need to be saved or helped by superhero.

Bibliography

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Conclusion, updated 1 March 2015

In conclusion, I think that media portrays women in ways that contribute to job discrimination. Nowadays, news and information become more digitally than verbally as the development of technology grows. Due to the widespread of all sorts of media, most people tend to learn the world by what they read on the internet, or what they hear in the news. They start to form the world in their brain by building up the details from which show on screens. Therefore, those senders who use stereotypes about women in job are not fully performing their digital citizenship responsibility. As a result, make the discriminational job situation even worse. While as I was doing research to support my thesis, I found a few articles that are showing positive trends of women in media and jobs. Also, I saw a really strong positive support to my thesis in one of the comments. These certain relations made me insist my original thesis. All the comments I got for my post were amazing, they all spent time reading through my post, asked questions about the post, and gave further information by linking to another article. Some questions let me realize that there are some points, such as specific examples, I need to clarify in my post, some questions made me think deeper to the original cause of these phenomenons, and some deep but meaningful questions had me to look for further data and articles in order to answer their questions. Personally I enjoyed the whole process of blogging a lot. We got to do something new and challenging every week, and my horizon was broaden every time I did research on my thesis. I learnt a whole bunch of information about the women in jobs and media. I felt so proud of myself when published the post. The part I enjoyed most was commenting other’s blog and reading my comments from my classmates. It was really interesting to see how others view a certain topic, and how people reacted to my opinion. Thanks for all the comments, viewers and questions.

12 comments:

  1. Greetings, Shining W! I have enjoyed reading your post on the links between the amount and nature of media portrayal of women and the consequences on women in the workforce. From your introduction, I see that this is a serious issue in China as well as the U.S. A recent article in the Huffington Post reinforces your thesis: " In a comprehensive study, the Global Media Monitoring Project found that only 24 percent of the people interviewed, heard, seen, or read about in mainstream broadcast and print news in 2010 were women." Not only are women stereotyped in their portrayal on entertainment media, but they receive little coverage as business or political leaders and professionals in the news. A later study in 2011 showed only 22% of expert guests on news shows were women. This is definitely disheartening. Can you find any data on how women are portrayed in Chinese media--both in news and entertainment? Or do you have any specific examples of some popular Chinese shows or movies that further illustrate the bias against women? Thank you for reminding me of the challenges women face as a result of bias. --Ms. Riches

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    1. Hi Ms. Riches, thanks for spending time reading through my blog and give me new information about my topic. I am glad to see more and more research done on the women portrayal and the attendance of women in various kinds of jobs. Because these data give us a more clear view of how women are portrayed in media contribute to job discrimination in the real life around us. I did not really focus on Chinese media when I was doing the research, because I've heard a lot of it when I was young and I was more curious about whether the women in other countries were treated the same way. But I did read about this articlethat might answer those questions. Thanks for bringing me back to my original purpose of doing this.

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  2. Hi, I agree with your point that "media plays an important role in our daily life" and they have some bias on women. But according to "such as military (8.3%) administration (8.9%) and professional (16.5%)", What do you think is the main reason that people have bias on women and why they hardly ever participate in certain jobs? Most of the children were taken care by moms in the world, do you think that more chance and jobs for female will change this?
    Thank you

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    2. Hi AMD♂NVIDIA, thanks for reading the blog. I think people have bias on women dated back to a long time ago when human shifted from matriarchal society to farming society, people started to rely and advocate more on the strength of men. Also because the difference men and women in biological structure, men tended to "fit better" in certain jobs than women. Therefore, women hardly ever participate in certain jobs. While I do not think that more opportunities of jobs will change the situation that moms taking care of children mostly, for some moms would rather choose to stay at home because of various kinds of reason. You might be interested in reading this article

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  3. Hi Shining. I appreciate for your fabulous work that shows the bigotry and unfair treatment of women from the media. I agree on the fact that the media does influence the treatment of women in our society by their portrayal on Televisions and other medias. Those influence does change the tendency of salary and difficulty within getting jobs. But I came up with one question about what you have mentioned in the cartoons. Do think that cultural perception of women will increase if there are more strong female role models in media? For example, a positive strong female leading cartoons used to be the powerpuff girls took the role of protagonists as a superhero cartoon. There are also the power rangers which very often show women and men have balanced main characters. Unfortunately, in the music industry, there are many female role models who seem to show negative effects on feminism. I had not given much thought to this issue before but now I will be looking for positive and negative role models for both genders in the media in the future. Thank you Shining!

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    1. Hi JS Lee, thank you for commenting on my post. Your question really made me think a lot about that point, and what I came up is that there are certainly some cartoons that are led by female characters, but the quantity of those cartoons is way more less than the "usual" ones, which are led by male characters. And I didn't realize I can pretty much remember all the female-leading cartoons I've seen just because there's only a few of them. And I do think that having more strong female role models in media is a way of increasing cultural perception of women. Because our brain takes in what's been repeatedly said to you, you started to believe those voices subconsciously. About the music industry aspect of women, I haven't read much about that. And I found this article, do you think this is what you mean? Thanks.

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  4. Hello Shining! I really enjoyed reading your opinion on how the media affects job opportunities in women. I too, get frustrated that women do not get the same chances for occupations as men do. I never really thought about why women didn't get the same chances, I simply assumed so because that was the usual for a long time. Now that I've read your article, I see the reason for it in a totally different way. I wrote my post on positive media for women, and I think if we begin to promote more positive messages for girls, they will be seen as a person with more potential. While I was doing my research I found an article here about the status of Women in US media, like statistics on women reporters, actors, etc. I think you'll enjoy reading it. Thanks again for such an inspiring post.

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    2. Hi Ann, thanks for spending time reading my blog. I do agree with you that if we start to show more positive sides of women in public, which most countries are doing it these years, we can achieve equality in gender in the future. I enjoyed reading your post too, and I have a study that also shows positive trends about women. The link to the Status of Women in the U.S. Media 2014 is a really good source, thanks for sharing that with me. And I am really surprised that in those main media, women appear and speak out much less than men do. Even though my blog was more focused on media portrayed women, I can see a certain relation between these two factors.

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  5. Hi Shining! This past week the New York Times published an article on the problems for women working in China. The article, In China's Modern Economy, a Retro Push Against Women, is directly related to your concerns. The article doesn't specifically talk about portrayal of women in Chinese media, but it does refer to the emphasis on traditional culture, where women remain in the home. I thought you might enjoy reading about it. --Ms. Riches

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    1. Hi Ms. Riches, thanks for sharing this link. I didn't feel much surprised when I read the stories about those girls or the data or even the history. Because these are similar to what I've heard and seen as I grew up. While when it starts to mention the constitution, I was kind of surprised. I always thought about how we and companies can do to change the situation, but I never thought of the role of government. The change of law or the clarification of certain articles would definitely help the situation to change. Thanks a lot for sharing this with me.

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