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Media Portrayal of Gender Roles:

The media has always stretched gender stereotypes since the 1900's. Women have always been portrayed as the stay-at-home figure, ever since TV and Radio shows started, like I Love Lucy or Leave it to Beaver. Both lead female roles were portrayed as "normal" women because they stayed at home and did the housework, and didn't have jobs. Even in many modern day shows, the media still portrays women as having "less important" jobs, or no jobs at all. Even today men take up 75% of "power positions" in the mass media.
external image lucy_1.jpg
This is a picture of the 1950's sitcom I Love Lucy. In this episode, Lucy and Ethel tried to work outside the home, and failed. The media sent out the message through this show that women were not meant for jobs outside the home.

I Love Lucy Quotes:

Ricky Ricardo: How much rice do you think we should use for four people?
Fred Mertz: I don't know. People do like that stuff.
Ricky Ricardo : How does one pound per person sound?
Fred Mertz: Sounds about right.
Ricky Ricardo : That's good because that's what I put in: four pounds.
This little quote shows that in the show I Love Lucy men were portrayed as not being able to know how to cook, or do any other type of housework. Women were the only ones who knew how to do it. Men were supposed to work at their well paying jobs.

Bias Language:

If we can change some of the things we refer to, it will help greatly to close the gender gap. For instance instead of saying mankind say humanity or people. Here are some others:
Businessman to Business Executive
I will have my Girl do it to I will have my Secretary do it
Women's Libber to Feminist
Old Wives Tale to Superstitious Belief
The doctor.....he to The doctors....they
Housewife to Homemaker
Acted like a hysterical women to she/he was upset

Important People:

  • Geena Davis- the founder of See Jane
  • Lucille Ball- played a female character in the 1950's sitcom I Love Lucy that was used to influence gender roles in the real world
  • Barbara Billingsley- played a matriarch* character in the 1950's sitcom Leave it to Beaver
  • Jane Wyatt- played the role of the mother in Father Knows Best, a 1950's sitcom that portrayed the "normal" middle-class family
  • Nancy Pelosi- a female speaker of the house who the media ridiculed
  • Greta Van Susteren- switched broadcasting stations and had a makeover to look younger when she was broadcasting

*matriarch is another word for clan-mother, or a mother in a family responsible for the well-being of a clan.

Clip from I Love Lucy This small clip, from I Love Lucy, shows how women were portrayed as not being able to work in factories without messing it up. Even today in shows there are still some traces of women not being able to work a "man's" job or a man to work a "woman's" job.

Click here to hear a sound bite from Leave It To Beaver
Click here to hear a sound bite from I Love Lucy
Click here to hear a sound bite from I Love Lucy


When Greta Van Susteren left from CNN to Fox she had a complete makeover. Not just make-up and a new hair cut, she surgically altered her face. She wanted to appear younger and more beautiful to the audiences. Robin Gerber said that Susteren used to be a great role model that brains could go far in the media industry. Women did not have to look like a beauty queen. Now that she has had all this done to her she falls into the stereotype that they way a woman looks is far more important than what they have to say.

What Media is Doing to Help:

Media has come along way since the 1900's. A couple of producers have taken the lead though. For example in the 1990's Kellogg produced a commercial of Special K that had older and larger women in it. These ads got such a great review a TV campaign was started in 1999. However, the media still has some commercials that use gender roles, like the commercial for The Christmas Tree Shop. Have you ever noticed that only females are shown shopping there, as with many other commercials for craft stores, and stores like that.

Click here to go to a sight that shows one of the many depositions filed against Wal-mart for treating their female workers like it was still the 1950's.

Click here for Chelsea's Legacy on: Geena Davis
Click here for Hillary's Legacy on: Lucille Ball
Click here to see the artifacts from our Civil Rights Museum