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Conservative women feel least represented in media

News, 20 April 2017
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NEW YORK: White women who identify as conservatives are most likely to say they don't see themselves represented in female roles in advertising, movies, and TV.

A study into womanhood by A&E Networks surveyed 6,837 women in the US to understand how they see themselves in the media. The research also analysed 440 ads over two years. In total, 44% of respondents felt represented by women they see in the media.

Political persuasion shapes receptivity more than ethnicity or age, Marcela Tabares, senior VP-strategic insights, ad sales, A&E Networks, told Advertising Age.

That's because political preference reflects a deeper difference of moral understanding, she explained.

Women who identify as conservative expressed a desire to see more women in traditional roles, as well as women interacting with men, and women happy with their current situation, the study found.

Those who identify as liberal, however, would like to see more representations of LGBT culture, ethnic diversity, and women in situations without men.

Of the 440 ads that the study analysed, 247 were found to show traditional representations of women, while just 65 ads had progressive representations.

However, it seems that a majority of women want to see "a shift in gender roles in subtler ways," Tabares said. "They don't want to be told what they should believe or embrace."

It would seem that those who identify as conservative do not identify with women shown in traditional male roles, or exuding traditionally male attributes.

Otherwise, the study suggested that women wish to see shifting gender roles represented as a matter of fact. For instance, if a woman appears in a position of leadership, it ought to form part of the story.

This reflects a desire for more realistic depictions of womanhood, and for brands to show female strength in a variety of forms.

However, political preference did not change how women understood the meaning of strength, with both sides agreeing that strong women stand up for themselves and others.

Data sourced from Advertising Age; additional content by WARC staff

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