STEREOTYPES IN MEDIA Images of girls and women in the media are filled with stereotypes about who women are and what their roles should be in society. These stereotypes can be negative, limiting and degrading and impact both how women perceive themselves and how others see them as well. This lesson provides an opportunity for students to critically examine certain media forms and their portrayals of women and girls. Students will consider how media shapes public perception and can perpetuate bias.

Vocabulary: Review the following vocabulary words and make sure students know their meanings.

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 5.23.01 AM


1. In the last 24 hours, what different forms of media did you use or interact with?

2. What is media?

Come up with a definition of media as follows: Media is “communication channels through which news, entertainment, education, data, or promotional messages are disseminated. Media includes every broadcasting and narrowcasting medium such as newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, billboards, phone and internet.” ( Based on the definition, you can add other forms of media not included previously.

PART II: STEREOTYPES 1. What is a stereotype? ANSWER: Stereotype is an oversimplified generalization about a person or group of people without regard for individual differences. Even seemingly positive stereotypes that link a person or group to a specific positive trait can have negative consequences.

2. Think of a time when someone made an assumption about them based on an aspect of their identity or perceived identity such as gender, race, ethnicity, age, physical or mental ability, physical appearance, sexual orientation, religion, economic status or some other characteristic.

3. How was it to talk about a stereotype you experienced? How do stereotypes perpetuate bias and prejudice?  


1. Did anyone select gender when they were talking about stereotypes? Share stereotypes about women and girls for example.

2. Compare your answer with the map mind below:

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 5.31.04 AM 1.

Looking at these words and phrases on the web, what generalizations can you make about the stereotypes of girls and women? 2. Are they mostly positive or negative? How do you feel looking at these words? 3. What are the overall messages that are being conveyed about women and girls?

If we cluster these stereotypes, there are at least three general categories:

  1. Women and girls are weak, emotional, helpless, are not good at fixing things and tend not to be skilled in math and science.
  2. Women and girls are primarily concerned with relationships and, as they grow up, are more focused on romantic/love relationships and their roles as mothers and caregivers, sometimes at the exclusion of other aspirations.
  3. Women and girls must value their physical and sexual attractiveness first above everything else. They have to look flawless and the standards of beauty for women are very different than those for men (i.e. it is acceptable for men to have physical flaws, show signs of aging, be a normal weight or overweight, etc.).
  1. Can anyone give me an example of a stereotype of women or girls that is being portrayed in any of the media forms we talked about earlier? Ask for examples from the class.


Read the text below:


  • What is the meaning of the title “Pretty Lies: Telling Us What We Need?”
  • Why was it difficult for Trisha (the author) and her family to figure out what product was being sold?
  • What is the connection between the advertisement and the product, according to Trisha?
  • How do advertisers use certain images to get people to buy products?
  • In the advertisement Trisha describes at the beginning of the essay, what stereotyped portrayals of women were used?


  1. You will investigate how women and girls are portrayed in various forms of media. You will then report your findings to the class a few days once you have done your research and analysis. Select one category from the list of media. For example:
    • Television or Internet Show: Students will watch one hour-long show or two half-hour shows
    • Movie: Students will watch one full length movie
    • Magazine Advertisement: Students will look at five magazine advertisements
    • Television Commercial: Students will watch five television commercials
    • Web site: Students will look at one website and examine at least three separate pages
    • YouTube videos: Students will watch five short (5 minutes or less) or one longer YouTube video.


CLASS DISCUSSION  (After completing the homework)

  • What stereotypes about girls and women did you find?
  • What stereotypes about girls and women were dispelled?
  • Were the stereotypes positive overall, negative overall or a combination?
  • Were you surprised by your findings? Why or why not?
  • Do you have any general thoughts or conclusions about how women and girls are portrayed in the media?
  • What do you think is the impact of these messages on individuals (especially girls and women) and society at large?
  • Do you think producers of media have a responsibility to portray women and girls in ways that defy stereotypes? Explain.
  • Go back to the semantic web and the overall categories of stereotypes. Do your findings reflect those stereotypes? Are there additional portrayals?
  • What did you learn by doing this activity?
  • How can people (as the consumers of the media) avoid being manipulated by the media and not internalize the messages being conveyed about girls and women?

You can answer these questions in your blog.



Read the following text below:



In December 2012, a 17-year-old New Jersey high school girl asked all the female students to show up for school without makeup, to feel good enough about themselves and, for one day, not try to look like a models or actresses. Another teenage girl from Maine started a petition for Seventeen Magazine to “give girls images of real girls.” The magazine responded with a promise not to alter the body size or face shape of its models and to be more transparent in what they do to photos.Collaborative work In small groups discuss the last discussion question in more depth by answering the following questions:

  • How can people (as the consumers of the media) avoid being manipulated by the media and not internalize the messages being conveyed about girls and women?
  • What can we do to influence these companies to present a more balanced portrayal of girls and women?
Write a letter of complaint or a letter of praise to the company who created the television show, ad, magazine, website, etc. your worked on previously. It is just as important to affirm when the media gets it right and has a positive portrayal as it is to complain when we don’t like what they did. For example, you may want to write a letter to Lions Gate Entertainment and praise them for making a movie with a strong female lead character in The Hunger Games. In your letters, you should explain what you discovered in your analysis, how you reacted, what negative (or positive) portrayals of girls or women you saw and your suggestions for what the company should do to improve their portrayal of girls and women. In addition, you should find the company information (name, address, CEO, etc.) in order to address the letter correctly. Go through the feedback and revision process to ensure that the letters are well written, comprehensive and thoughtful. Share some of the letters with the whole class and then write the final version in your blogs (500 -600 words) AFTER RECEIVING YOUR TEACHER’S FEEDBACK.


STEREOTYPES IN COVER MAGAZINES One of the suggested topics for Part 2 of the Language A: Language and Literature guide is ‘stereotypes’. For this topic, we look at how various ethnic or gender stereotypes are created in the media. We study the use of language and images in combination with particular roles in film and advertisements. Lessons on this topic explore how racial and gender stereotypes are reinforced in various ads through the use of particular images. Furthermore it is important to study the role of stereotypes in the Language A: Language and Literature course for several reasons. First of all, we need to make sophisticated comments on the audiences that texts target, meaning we must be nuanced and sublte in our analyses. Secondly, several forms of assessment, such as the written task 2, ask us how different readers may interpret the same text differently. Again, this requires a certain level of understanding and political correctness. Here are some guiding questions to help us in our understanding of stereotyps and textual analysis. Guiding questions How are stereotypes created in the media? How do the media reinforce stereotypes? How are the media critical of stereotyping? What do you associate with powerful women? How are these associations based on stereotypes that have been generated by the media. How do the media generate these stereotypes? These are the kinds of questions we aim to answer in this lesson. We will be looking at a specific text type, namely magazine covers, and asking ourselves how the language of magazine covers helps construct the stereotypes that we hold of powerful women. This will allow us to understand how the mass media use language to influence our understanding of power and gender, which ties in to the third learning outcome for Part 2. Let have a quick glance at the following slides taken from Training Workshop in Bahamas. Who’s the most powerful woman? Below you see FOUR pictures of women on the covers of magazines. Angela MerkelMichelle Obama Tyra BanksJulia Gillard Gender, power and magazine covers Ask yourself how the language of each magazine cover determines our understanding of gender and power through language. By language, consider the following devices that can be used to construct meaning on magazine covers. Analyze the use of these devices in constructing body language lighting font caricature setting inclusion of symbols facial expressions color dress / clothing layout copy (language of the text) HOW POWER OR WEAKNESS IS CONSTRUCTED? COMPLETE THE FOLLOWING CHART  POWERFUL WOMEN – CHART The stereotype Judging by the language of magazine covers, there seem to be many unfavorable characteristics that we associate with powerful women. ‘Icy’, ‘cold’, ‘distant’, ‘closed’ are a few of the words that may have come up in your analysis of these images. Are these the definitive characteristics of powerful women? If so, how does that put women in a difficult position in life and on the work floor? Here are some questions that you can answer in light of the article below. How true are the stereotypes that Brenna Coleman presents in her blog? After watching the trailers for Disclosure and The Proposal, do you think differently about your first answer? How do the magazine covers add to the stereotype that Brenn Coleman presents? READ THE TEXT HERE Media Portrayal of Women
Brenna Coleman

BLOG ASSIGNMENT Written task 1 – After studying the different ways in which magazines and films reinforce the idea of stereotypes in media, choose a film, a magazine cover or song lyrics, evaluate how it portrays a specific stereotypes, what elements it uses to achieve this purpose and what are the implications for people who read or watch this. Write between 600 – 800 words.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s