Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Bass, Abraham Z.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Journalism


Women--Press coverage; Women's periodicals


The mass media, as purveyors of societal values through the images presented, can play a key role in the reinforcement of traditional sexual stereotypes or the promulgation of new roles for the sexes. Because of this influence, an examination of the images of women as presented in women’s magazines can indicate the current status of women as portrayed to magazine readers. This study analyzes the image of women in 20 women’s magazines found at the supermarket checkout counter for April 1984. Informal observations and content analysis following research designs of earlier studies of magazine covers, fiction, non-fiction, and advertisements, compare current findings for the image of women to findings of earlier studies. The sample was chosen to provide a point-in-time observation of this mass audience view of women. The magazine covers are examined for the attitude of the woman illustrated and the written content. Stereotyping in non-fiction and fiction was evaluated through the percentages of women employed, job categories, attitudes toward working women, and article topics. Advertisements were categorized by product type, the role of women in the ads (decorative, family, recreational), and assigned to a Consciousness Scale level based on objective standards defining the degree of sex stereotyping. Few changes in the image of women have occurred in women’s magazines since the 1970s. Findings for the percentage of working women in magazine portrayals is less than that of actual percentages of working women in the population, and working women portrayed are frequently in unrealistic roles of entertainers and professional athletes. Women’s work usually takes a secondary position to the man in her life or her family. The prevalent decontextualized settings, with no clues as to marital or working status, cultivate a broader-based audience without offending traditionalists or feminists. The portrayal of women as decoration has been observed in increasing frequency since 1972, while the number of working women portrayed has increased slightly.


Bibliography: pages [113]-116.


vii, 116 pages




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