Sugar and spice and all things nice - that's what adverts for girls are made of

11 April 2011

It won't come as a huge shock to learn that television advertising reinforces gender stereotypes, or that children are exposed to these messages from a very early age. It's a bit of an eye-opener when you see the cumulative effect.

Crystal Smith sat through nearly 60 children's television commercials; the list of adverts targeted at boys included Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Nerf, Transformers, Beyblades and Bakugan, while the girl's commercial included Zhu Zhu Pets,Bratz Dolls, Barbie, My Little Pony and Littlest Pet Shop. Smith transcribed the adverts then fed the information into Wordle, the online app that creates word clouds, with the size of the words dictated by their frequency:

Bitterwallet - boy's advert wordle

Bitterwallet - girl's advert wordle

You can guess which is which. Children's television is continuing to reinforce stereotypes and influence how children think they should behave - boys should want to kick the faces off other boys and everyone else, while girls should love their friends, the world, small inanimate objects and so on.

[The Achilles Effect]

TOPICS:   Advertising   Home

3 comments

  • klingelton
    ok, i think we all knew what to expect here, however - asking marketing companies to change the way they sell toys to each gender will ensure that the sales of those particular toys will drop off. you can't sell G.I. Joe by saying how fluffy his gloves are, it's all to do with the size of his gun (smirk). The reason the marketing companies choose to sell like this is because it works - and always has. Boys like guns, war, technology, fighting, football - generally. girls like ponies, pink, fluffy things, kittens and the like. sure it might be social conditioning, but it's also the way we're build. In summary. well done study for showing us the obvious.
  • Alexis
    Why are such stereotypes wrong? Seems reasonable for both boys and girls be subjected to all these ideas and the general idea that this is how human sexes should behave.
  • Kirsty
    @Alexis "should behave" I think you've just highlighted the problem right there. So the Royal Ballet is not in need of male leads and the Armed Forces don't want to recruit women? I think what the study is trying to get us to think about is whether or not we behave the way we do because we want to or because we're conditioned (whether that is by society, advertising, social history or whatever) to believe that it is what we "should" do. At Primary School I played football, collected Star Wars Tazzos and wanted to be a Police Officer. I was conditioned to believe I wasn't emotionally cut out to deal with criminals and telling people their kids had died and was led to a 'safer' career in teaching. At Secondary School girls and boys were seperated in games so girls played non contact sports such as netball while the boys played Rugby. I've just graduated from an Engineering Faculty at University where I took the girliest subject (Geophysics) and yes I'm training to be a teacher. My aim though is to redress some of these stereotypes - starting with encouraging more girls to take 'masculine' subjects such as Mechanical Engineering, Aeronautics and Civil Engineering. It's not that girls don't excell in traditionally masculine disciplines, it's that they are not encouraged to even consider them. Equality is not about giving one of the sexes a leg up (universities definitely SHOULD NOT accept a female applicant over a male applicant unless she is academically more capable), it's about giving them the same choices and opportunities without this sort of negative influence.

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