A comparison of gender and racial representation in children's television programming between PBS and Toon Disney

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A comparison of gender and racial representation in children's television programming between PBS and Toon Disney
Zarini, Shokoufeh
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ix, 90 leaves : ; 28 cm


Subjects / Keywords:
Public Broadcasting Service (U.S.) ( lcsh )
Toon Disney (Television network) ( lcsh )
Animated television programs -- Social aspects ( lcsh )
Race ( lcsh )
Sex ( lcsh )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


Includes bibliographical references (leaves 81-90).
General Note:
Department of Sociology
Statement of Responsibility:
by Shokoufeh Zarini.

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Source Institution:
|University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
|Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
62783352 ( OCLC )
LD1193.L66 2005m Z37 ( lcc )

Full Text
Shokoufeh Zarini
B.A., Islamic Azad University of Iran, 1992
M.A., Islamic Azad University of Iran, 1998
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
\ 3
..... i-

2005 by Shokoufeh Zarini
All rights reserved.

This thesis for the Master of Arts
degree by
Shokoufeh Zarini
has been approved
Candan Duran-Aydintug
Virginia Fink

Shokoufeh Zarini (M.A., Sociology)
A Comparison of Gender and Racial Representation in Childrens Television
Programming between PBS and Toon Disney
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Candan-Duran Aydintug
This study examined gender and race representation within PBS and Toon Disney
childrens programming. A content analysis revealed that Toon Disney portrayed
more males and White major characters than PBS. Compared to PBS, Toon Disney
also showed males and females and Whites and None-Whites major characters in
more gender-role and race stereotypical behavior.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I
recommend its publication.
Candan Duran-Aydintuj

I dedicate this thesis to my husband for his supporting and my parents who
encouraged me from far away while I was writing this.

My thanks to my advisors, Candan Duran-Aydintug, Virginia Fink, and Xili Xu, for
their patience with me during thesis in the past two years. I also wish to thank the
staff of the Graduate School for their support and understanding.

1. INTRODUCTION...........................................1
2. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE...............................3
General Theories about TV Effects on Children.......5
Gender, Race, and Violence.........................31
PBS and Toon Disney Channels.......................37
Theoretical Framework..............................41
Research Questions and Key Issues..................43
3. METHODOLOGY...........................................45
Definition of Variables............................47
Empirical Analysis.................................55
4. RESULTS...............................................56
5. DISCUSSION............................................63
6. CONCLUSION............................................69

Limitations and Implications for Future Research.72
A. CODING SHEET....................................75
B. RANDOMIZED TIMES................................80

1. Differences in Gender and Racial Composition of All Characters in
Childrens TV Programming between PBS and Toon Disney Channels...57
2. Differences in Gender and Racial Composition of Major Characters in
Childrens TV Programming between PBS and Toon Disney Channels...58
3. Differences in Gender-Role Representation of Major Characters in
Childrens TV Programming between PBS and Toon Disney Channels...60
4. Differences in Race Representation of Major Characters in Childrens TV
Programming between PBS and Toon Disney Channels

Television is an integral part of girls and boys everyday lives. There is a
general understanding that television acts as an important agent of socialization,
together with the family and peers, contributing to the shaping of gender roles
(Holtzman, 2000; Witt, 2000,1997). Children on television have been generally cast
in gender appropriate roles, the girls playing with dolls, the boys playing at sports,
and all are cute and talk as though they were insightful adults. Gender representation
in childrens programming deserves attention because children begin watching
television at a very early age and spend considerable time doing so. Therefore, as
children watch the gender roles depicted in television, they observe and pick up cues
about how they should behave, unaware that what they are observing is a biased and
distorted view of the world (Smith, 1994; Oliver, 2001; Powell & Abies 2002). This
previous statement suggests that television does have an impact on childrens
perceptions of the real world, and what is also significant when considering the
impact these stereotypical portrayals have on the career goals of those who observe
them (Thompson & Zerbinos, 1997).
Race, like sex, is a set of genetically defined, biological characteristics.
However, like gender, it is also a set of culturally defined characteristics.
Representation of race in the media, particularly on television, can consist of the

same sort of rigid stereotypes that constitute gender portrayal. Moreover,
stereotyping of race is seen as more harmful than stereotyping of gender, as
television representation may constitute the only experience of contact with a
particular ethnic group that an audience (particularly an audience of children) may
have. Racial stereotypes are often based on social myth, perpetuated down the
generations (Witt, 2000). Thus, television depiction of, say, Native American
Indians, might provide a child with their only experience of Native American Indian
culture and characters, and may provide that child with a set of narrow prejudices,
which will not be challenged elsewhere within their experience. The need for a more
accurate portrayal of the diversity of different races is a priority for political
agendas, but, as ever, it seems as though it will take a while for political thinking to
filter through to programs and filmmaking.
The present study will compare two TV channels (PBS and Toon Disney)
for children about representation of gender and race in childrens television

The main agencies influencing children in American society are the family,
peer groups, schools, and especially media (Holtzman, 2000). Gender differences
result from the socialization process, especially during our childhood and
adolescence (Corsaro, 2005; Holtzman, 2000). According to Holtzman (2000),
gender socialization begins the moment we are bom, from the simple question is it
a boy or a girl? We learn our gender roles by these agencies of socialization, which
are the teachers of society. Each of the agents reinforces the gender stereotypes.
Among them, television sends forceful and compelling messages about societally
approved gender roles that are often stereotyped, biased, and outdated (Leaper,
Breed, Hoffman, & Perlman, 2002; Auberey & Harrison, 2004) since children
continue to develop and grow, they are exposed to more and more examples of such
gender biases and stereotypes. In their developmental course, children are exposed
to many factors, which influence their attitudes and behaviors regarding gender
roles (Holtzman, 2000). These attitudes and behaviors are generally learned first at
home. Parents have a great deal of influence on gender role socialization of their
children through own beliefs regarding gender roles (Witt, 1997; Corsaro, 2005).
When children move into the larger world, the media, in particular, television
enforces many of their ideas and beliefs. Research indicates that television has a

socializing influence on children regarding their attitudes toward gender roles (Witt,
2000; Holtzman, 2000) .In an ever-changing world, television has been accused by
many of representing gender in an extremely stereotyped and traditional manner,
which is no longer appropriate for the variety of roles taken on by the genders in
real life (Ganahl, Prinsen & Netzley, 2003; Rolandelli, 1991).
Television presents to its attentive audience a certain image of the world,
providing a framework for what is acceptable and what is unacceptable in society.
Additionally, it also sends out implicit and explicit messages of what the world is
like (Gunter & McAleer, 1990). In its portrayals of everyday life, it reflects many
important social roles, one of the most important and pervasive of these being
gender (Witt, 2000; Holtzman, 2000). Television has the potential to teach children
about how men and women act in society, and to mold their views of what is
expected of them in society as either a man or a woman. Television can play a
significant role in a childs developing beliefs and attitudes about what it means to
be male or female in the world (Piaget, 1954). It is widely accepted that what
children see on television can influence their attitudes and behaviors in the area of
gender and race (Leibert & Sprafkin, 1988).

General Theories about TV Effects on Children
Before reviewing research conducted in gender and race representation in
childrens television, several theories in which television might be considered to
play a role in the acquisition of gender and race and their stereotypes will be
The first theory is Biological Theory that indicates women are bom with
feminine identities, and women are naturally suited to the roles of mothering and
housekeeping, whereas men as natural hunters announce dominant roles (Piaget,
1954). From the perspective of this theory, television would play little or no part in
influencing gender roles, but perhaps only serve to reflect the underlying biological
processes of social behaviors as they unfold during interactions with the
environment. Thus, we can conclude that television would not be a consideration as
to be a possible influence of gender roles.
The second theory is Social learning Theory, which explains that the media
offer a rich source of models available for imitation (Bandura, 1977, 1986).
Although this theory mainly deals with television violence, aspects of the theory
apply to what children watch on television. Social Learning Theory explains how
the media can have an influence on childrens thoughts and behaviors. Children
learn and imitate the behavior of others, and the media offer a model for children to
imitate. The behavior that is seen on television may not be imitated immediately,

but stored in memory for future use (Larson, 2001). This theory could be applied to
the effect that gender and race stereotypes in childrens programming may have on
childrens perceptions.
Another aspect of television s influence is known as the Television
Cultivation effect. This theory mainly focuses on violence on TV, but it can be
applied to any TV viewing. What is mainly presented with this theory is that our
perceptions of social reality are heavily influenced by what children see in the
media. The more they watch TV, the more children start to believe that our reality is
like what they see on TV. Children create a reality for theirselves based on what
they view in the media (Larson, 2001). According to this theory, it could be
predicted that heavy children viewers of TV tend to hold a more traditional gender
and racial stereotype in their head based on what they watch in childrens
The Cognitive Theory predicts that viewing television may lead to imitation
by the viewer, since children learn from others. Bandura (1986) argues that social
influences come in different forms, including imitation, modeling, observation the
model, vicarious and actual reinforcement, and punishment. Durkin (1985) also
supports that children obtain information about gender roles and race/ethnicity from
television and model their behavior based on television characters. Role models are
more likely to be influential in not only gender development but also in

development or modification of stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination when
they are portrayed in television. Therefore, it would be important to have a diverse
set of role models displayed, so that diverse audiences can identify with at least one
same-race or same-gender role model (Neilson Media Research, 1998, cited in
Mastro & Stem, 2003).
The other theory concerning television influence on children is the
Identification Theory (Feilitzen & Linne, 1975), that changes completely to when
the children identify with the imaginative, or what they want something to be. Van
Evra (1990) acknowledges these findings and notes that if a child identifies with a
character, which he/she particularly admires, then that child could be more likely to
imitate the displayed behavior. However, this gives no indication of the extent to
which children imitate behavior, or are influenced by the gender or race of the
characters they identify with.
This part will show some of previous works related to gender, race and
ethnicity representation in advertising and childrens programming on television.
It is almost impossible to avoid exposure to stereotyped portrayals of men
and women, as popular media, such as books, television, and websites, frequently
depict men and women acting in a gender stereotyped manner (Hall, 2000; Hogben

& Waterman, 1997; Low & Sherrared, 1999; Peterson & Kroner, 1992 cited in
Yanowitz & Weathers, 2004). In a study, Yanowitz and Weathers (2004) analyzed
student characters in 15 educational psychology textbooks for potential gender
stereotypes. The results showed that male characters were depicted with negative
masculine traits, such as aggression, significantly more often than were female
characters. There were no differences between boys and girls in terms of feminine
characteristics of positive masculine traits. Male characters were also portrayed as
engaging in stereotypically masculine activities significantly more often than female
characters, although there was no difference in science activity as a function of
Even though a child is said to learn from the stimuli he/she attends to, there
has been little work on what attracts and maintains a young childs attention on
television (Bandura, 1963 cited in Anderson & Levin, 1976). Anderson and Levin
(1976) analyzed the development of visual attention to Sesame Street based on
direct observations of 72 one to four-years old child as a function of age, gender,
and the presence or absence of a number of relatively simple auditory and visual
characteristics of a TV program. The findings indicated as age increases attention to
the TV increases, and attention was evaluated in the presence of some attributes and
depressed in the presence of others. Many of the attributes effects interacted with
the gender of the child.

Bearison, Bain, and Daniele (1982) examined how children understand
scenes of social interaction that are depicted on television and how their level of
understanding changes as a function of their age and their stage of cognitive
development. The study measured childrens spontaneous reconstructions of
television scenes and their responses to series of specific questions regarding
thoughts and feelings of particular television characters. The researchers found that
younger children, at the preoperational stage of cognition, were more likely to
structure televised social content in terms of overt descriptive features such as
action, and literal repetition of a dialogue. Also, children at the preoperational and
formal operational stages were more likely to consider the inferential aspects of
social interaction and, in addition to descriptive features, offer interpretations
regarding the feelings, thoughts, needs, and intentions of the characters and how
these qualities influence their interpersonal relations. The findings also indicated
that these developmental changes instructing television content were not simply a
function of the amount of experience children have had with the medium, as a
significant age effect alone might imply, but they are significantly associated with
stages of cognitive reasoning independent of age.
Children begin to acquire gender role information very early in life, and they
are exposed to several sources of information and feedback, particularly on
television. An interesting question is whether children could predict the gender of a

person who will undertake a particular activity in a television program? Concerning
the sex of persons carrying out a variety of common activities and occupations on
television, Durkin and Nugent (1998) investigated the possibility that 48 young
children between four and five years old in a large Australian city may have
stereotyped beliefs and expectations that can be applied in the course of television
viewing. The findings revealed that kindergarten aged children had strong
awareness of gender stereotyped expectations, mostly in the case of masculine
stereotyped activities. This awareness increased by age and girls were most likely to
reject masculine activities.
Gender stereotypes still pervade the advertising industries. Women usually
are cast as prime targets and consumers in television commercials that can create
and reinforce unwanted stereotypes. Ganahl, Prinsen, & Netzley (2003) studied
gender representation of 1,337 prime-time commercials from three major networks
(ABC, CBS, and NBC). The researchers compared the findings of this study to the
results of previous studies ( Bretel and Cantor in 1988, the U.S. Census Bureaus
2000 population statistics, and Mediamark Research and Simmons syndicated
marketing services) and to proprietary data about product users. The findings
indicated that the commercial producers cast their female and male characters much
the same way in 2003 as did in the 1980s. Although women made most purchases of
goods and services, they were still underrepresented as primary characters during

most prime-time commercials except for health and beauty products. Women were
still cast as younger and supportive counterparts to men; and older women were still
the most underrepresented group. Therefore, television commercials perpetuate
traditional stereotypes of women and men. As we know, children, like adults, are
targeted as an important market by advertisers.
In the last few years, much public attention has been focused on the issue of
how advertising has the potential to influence childrens behavior. Children are
encountering information about gender roles on television commercials, where it
has been found that gender stereotyping may be even stronger than in regular
television programming. Smith (1994) emphasized the importance of studying the
behavioral differences between boys and girls and how advertisements portrayed the
sexes in different ways. She found that more advertisements were aimed at boys
than at girls based on gender and type of products advertised. In addition, the toys
advertised were classified as male and female and these classifications were
traditional gender roles. When it comes to using narrators, in advertisements for
girls only on few occasions female voices were used, whereas advertisements
directed to boys used exclusively male voices. Also, boys and girls both performed
passive activities, in proportion to the total number of actions, on an approximately
equal level. Most of girl characters were seen to be physical, but boys were involved

more in antisocial behavior. In terms of setting, girls mostly spend their time in the
home, whereas boys were seen mainly away from home.
Advertising is a pervasive feature of our lives today and will inevitably make
an impact on the developing minds of children. Studies generally conclude that
preschool children know what advertisements are, in that they can distinguish them
from programs (Levin, Petrosa, & Petrella, 1982; Liebert & Sprafkin, 1988; cited in
Pine & Nash, 2003). Pine and Nash (2003) investigated the extent to which
preschool children (aged 4-5 years old) prefer brands advertised on television in the
United Kingdom. They interviewed 75 children and gave a choice task in which
they had to select the product, from eight pairs, each comprising a branded and non-
branded product (popular drinks, snacks, toys, breakfast cereals, and sportswear)
that children of that age and gender preferred. The findings of this study revealed
that a strong gender effect was found as 78% of the girls choices were for the
branded products compared with just 58% of boys. Overall, girls showed greater
preference for branded products than boys. The reasons for this could be the
socialization of girls, higher television viewing, or differences in verbal ability and
emotional sensitivity.
However, while many parents are vigilant about monitoring the programs
their children watch, few attend to the commercials shown during those programs.
Larson (2001), analyzed 595 commercials featuring children in programming aimed

at children to assess the portrayals of activities and interactions of boys and girls in
both single-gender and mixed-gender commercials. The study revealed that nearly
equal numbers of boys and girls were featured and they were often featured
together, acting cooperatively. However, single-gender commercials portrayed girls
in stereotypical domestic settings. In addition, the primary activity of all children in
the commercials analyzed was non-creative play, and considerable violence and
aggression were portrayed.
Nowadays, media industries move their target downward further, first to
preadolescents, then to children in elementary school and younger, and the vehicles
for this have been television and videos, today young children, even preschoolers,
are the targets of commercial messages increasingly around the world. Young
childrens culture is a culture dominated by television and toys. Just like earlier
generations of flappers who as teenagers were able to develop a separate lifestyle
separated from their parents, todays young children have access via televisions
promotion of shows with characters that are related to toys, to their own culture,
which can now connect children all over the world. Television advertisements also
targeted at children often reinforce gender stereotypes related to toys: Boys play
with trucks and war toys; girls play with dolls, makeup, and miniature appliances.
Considering this issue, Rajeck, Dame, Creek, Barrickman, and Reid (1993)
considered a study in three parts including a survey, a content analysis, and an

evaluation related to live gender casting as all-boy, boy-and-girl, and all-girl ads.
For the first subsample, the researchers videotaped total 54 hours broadcasts of the
ABC, CBS, and NBC television networks from 7:00 A.M to 12:00 noon eastern
time on the Saturday mornings of November 18 and December 16,1989, and again
in late January 1990. The second sample included 30 hours of taped materials, the
broadcasts of the FOX and Nickelodeon television networks were videotaped from
7:00 A.M to 12:00 noon eastern time on the Saturday mornings of November 17 and
December 15,1990, and again on January 19,1991. At first, the researchers
analyzed distributions of gender-specific cast types within various domains of
commercials. Then, along of all the program and nonprogram content of the 75
hours of taped material were prepared. They divided ads for children into three
domains: toy, food, and others. Second, they analyzed verbal messages in all the
different toys ads from the first subsample. The hours from 1989 yielded a total of
534 childrens commercials that 244 (46%) of these were for toys. Finally, for
evaluation by adults, they selected 12 of the toy ads from the overall sample, 4 each
from all-boy, boy-and-girl, and all-girl subsets. Of these ads, 2 each were taken
from the categories of action figure, machine/hardware, craft/make-believe,
game/entertainment, doll-traditional, and doll-glamour. The result from a survey of
856 commercial showed that toy ads were sharply compartmentalized regarding live
gender representation and roles. Contextual content analysis indicated that all-boy

ads were characterized by a practical subtext, boy-and girl ads as to have a
traditional or normative thrust, and all-girl ads as emotional in tone. Evaluation
study of adults found all-boy ad products were seen as suitable only for boy targets,
all-girl ad products as suitable only for girl targets, but boy-and-girl ad products
were judged generally suitable for both targets. Overall, the researchers concluded
from these three studies that toys in ads continue to be linked with gender
stereotypes and this trend might increase in the future.
Most modem childrens advertisements depict traditional, stereotypical
images of boys playing with cars, trucks, and action figures, while engaging in
rowdy, loud, and even violent game play. Conversely, girls are most often shown
playing with dolls of all sorts, dressing and grooming them in relatively passive
manners (Seiter, 1993; Smith, 1994). Although the numbers of females shown in
diverse roles and activities has increased in the childrens television commercials
over the past twenty years, it is still not accurate or indicative of the numbers of
females, or roles, actually held by females in society. Bradway (2004) studied
eighty childrens television commercials, which were taped during Saturday
morning cartoons, in four networks channels (NBC, ABC, CBS, and FOX), while
evidence of stereotypes associated with roles, traits, and activities, for both males
and females were documented. These results were in line with past research
performed in the realm of gender stereotypes in childrens television commercials.

One particularly interesting study of gender in childrens advertising was
research done by Lynn, Walsdorf, Marie Hardin, and Brent Hardin (2002) examined
advertising photographs in 36 issues of Sports Illustrated for Kids (SIK) to find out
how advertising images in SIK changed following the 1996 Olympic games, from
late 1996 through 1999. They compared the findings from this study of SIK
advertising with those of Cuneen and Sidwells (1998) analysis of SIK
advertisement photographs. A clear pattern of differential photographic treatment of
gender was noted throughout the analysis. Although there have been some
improvements, a majority of the stereotypical relationships between gender and
sport that the previous researchers established have continued in SIK photographs,
even when cultural acceptance and expectations of women in sport have evolved
toward equity.
While televisions purposes are wholly commercial, nor social or
purposefully malevolent, such selectivity (gender, ethnicity, and nationality) can
have impacts on perceptions of identity that may or may not be socially describable.
A study (Billing & Eastman, 2002) addressed how NBC television characterized
people of differing identities during this dramatic spectacle because recognition of
such media influences may be key to interpreting changing and resistant social
attitudes. Concerning that, the researchers analyzed a total of 54 hours of American
television prime-time Olympic coverage during September 15 until October 1st

within 8-11 p.m., Monday through Saturday, 7-11 p.m. Sunday to find out about
representation of gender, ethnicity, and nationality in summer of 2000. With regard
to gender, men were characterized as being more athletes and more committed than
women athletes, and men received over half of all airtime and of all mentions of
athletes. With regard to ethnicity, White athletes were portrayed as succeeding
because of commitment, whereas Black athletes succeeded because of innate
athletic skills. With regard to nationalistic bias the result showed that the most-
mentioned athletes and half of all athletes mentioned were American participants. In
addition, such differential treatment has significant implications for the development
of American viewers self-identity, particularly for children and teenagers.
Even though, many of the studies on gender stereotyping in television have
emanated from the United States, a number of research on gender portrayals on
television advertising have been found to cross national boundaries. To draw
comparison between Americans and British in respect to gender stereotyping in
childrens television advertisements, Fumham, Abramsky, and Gunter (1997)
investigated whether males and females were differently portrayed in television
advertising deliberately designed for children. Childrens programs were taped from
two major commercial television stations over two consecutive weekends, one
major commercial station in London (ITV) and the other in New York (ABC). They
found that males were portrayed more than females in both American and British

advertisements. In terms of the nature of gender role portrayals, with males
generally occupying more central and authoritative positions, both national markets
were more similar than different. There were two significant differences between
the two countries. Girls outnumbered boys in American commercials, but the
opposite was true of British commercials. Also, Hispanic males were present in
American commercials but not in British commercials.
As mentioned earlier, much research has explored the content and the effects
of gender-stereotyped portrayals on viewers, but less research has considered the
role of viewers responses to and enjoyment from such content in childrens
television programming. Oliver (2001) experimented on 176 children aged 3-9 years
old to find out about gender differences in young childrens responses to animated
entertainment and the relationship between gender differences and age. She found
that females were more likely than males to report and express sadness and gender
differences in self-reported intensities of sadness were shown no increase with age.
Emotional responses to the action adventure showed no gender differences and the
action adventure displayed only exciting scenes in which characters were in danger,
but these scenes did not feature explicit displays of violence or aggression.
Childrens responses to the prototypical male versus female previews showed
general support for the idea that children perceive entertainment along gender-
linked lines, and this gender stereotyping showed a slightly increasing trend with

age. Finally, gender differences in childrens reported enjoyment of media
entertainment depend upon whether or not the children perceive the entertainment
as appealing to the other gender.
To better understand the relationship between gender stereotypes and
counter stereotypes on television and childrens gender-related perceptions, Aubrey
and Harrison (2004) conducted two studies. The first study was a content analysis of
a sample of first-and second-graders (N = 190) about childrens favorite television
programs, which arguably provide the most important, salient, and memorable
scripts for young viewers. Second, the researchers explored how non-manipulated
television preferences relate to the gender-related perceptions. The result of the
content analysis showed that male characters were still more likely than female
characters to answer questions, boss or order others, show ingenuity, achieve a goal,
and eat. The findings of the second study indicated that preference for stereotypical
content predicted boys valuing hard work and humor. In addition, girls preference
for male stereotypical and male counter stereotypical content negatively predicted
interpersonal attraction to female characters, whereas preference for male counter
stereotypical and gender-neutral content predicted the opposite. Finally, boys
preference for female counter stereotypical content positively predicted
interpersonal attraction to male characters.

Prior content analyses have documented the advantage that male characters
have over female characters, even in educational programs for young audiences
(Bamer, 1999, Calvert, Stolkin, & Lee 1997). Based on this issue, a study (Calvert,
Kotler, Zehnder, & Shockey 2003) examined gender stereotyping in childrens
writings about their favorite educational and informational television programs.
They examined 318 children in the 2nd through 6th grade about their favorite
educational and informational television programs by online, and the reports were
examined for presence of gender stereotypes. The findings of this study revealed
that, overall, children reported more male than female characters and that is then
carried over into their use of more male than female characters. Children also wrote
mainly about masculine behaviors and traits, but interestingly girl characters were
reported as engaging in about the same number of masculine behaviors as did boy
characters. Over time, preadolescent girls showed a greater preference for
educational programs that featured female lead characters, and the girls used more
feminine pronouns, behavior, and expressed a greater range of feeling in their
writings about their favorite programs. However, girls and boys were more likely to
report masculine behaviors for male and female characters. Moreover, gender-
stereotyping effects were eliminated for boys who selected a favorite program
featuring an adventurous female lead character. Although memories of educational
television programs are often gender stereotyped, a few nontraditional programs can

drench the audience, providing nontraditional images and models for those who
search for them.
Most feminist studies on socialization and media effects on children have
focused on the relationship between exposure to gendered messages and perceptions
of stereotyped gendered behavior (Barcus, 1983; Steeves, 1987, cited in Powell &
Abies 2002). Based on this concept, Powell and Abies (2002) analyzed depiction of
gender and messages about gender expectations in popular preschool childrens
programs, Teletubbies and Barney & friends, both aimed at children ages two
through five. They found a change in the portrayal of gender roles to a preschool
audience that was happening through Teletubbies and Barney & friends. However,
that change was mostly opening up accepted behavior for boys, while gender roles
were primarily being reinforced for girls.
There is a strong argument that television viewing plays an important role in
childrens gender role development (Frueh & McGhee, 1975; Signorielli, 1990). A
few studies have attempted to show that repeated exposure to such consistently
stereotyped messages about males and females has an influence on childrens
development of gender roles. Bamer (1999) examined the gender role stereotypes
presented in FFC mandated Educational/Informational (E/I) childrens
programming by analyzing the social behaviors of male and female characters. The
findings of this study showed that males were represented more than females and

both male and female characters exhibited significantly more gender role
stereotypical behavior. Also, males were more likely to evoke some consequences
for their actions while female actions tended to be ignored altogether.
A study (Eick, 1998) based on analysis of four popular television cartoons
(The New Adventures of Captain Planet, Scooby Doo: Where are you, The
Jetstoons, and Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures) in regard to their portrayals of
gender stereotypes indicated a huge gap between portrayals of males and females in
all of the cartoons analyzed. Males outnumbered females and they also portrayed
traditional stereotypes in physical and occupational appearances. Females were in
supporting roles and most of them were shown dressed and drawn stereotypically,
with tiny waists and short skirts. Regarding to the roles they were to play and
dressed, males seemed even more confined than females.
Although numerous studies have focused on how adult females are portrayed
on television (Glascock, 2001; Murphy, 1998; Ganahal, Prinsen, & Netzley, 2003),
only a few studies addressed gender representation in childrens programming.
Gender representation in childrens programming especially cartoons deserves
attention because children begin watching television at a very early age and spend
considerable time doing so. Thompson and Zerbinos (1995) looked at 175 episodes
of 41 different gender representations in childrens cartoons in the 1990s and
whether the picture has changed since the 1970s. They found both male and female

characters were portrayed stereotypically. Male characters were more likely to give
more prominence, appear more frequently, engaged in more of almost all of the
noted behaviors, and talk significantly more than females do. Overall, compared to
pre-1980 cartoons, post-1980 cartoons had significant change toward a less
stereotypical portrayal of the characters, particularly female characters. Another
study (Rolandelli, 1991) of the gender role portrayals of 279 characters from 35
childrens television programs was conducted to examine their influence on the
gender role attitudes of Japanese children. Result showed that Japanese television
programming presented males and females in their traditional gender roles. Men
were often portrayed as powerful, likable, older, and mature, while women were
frequently presented as weak, deferent, younger, and less mature. The message
children were most likely to get was that, in Japan, being masculine was more
rewarding than being feminine.
Cartoons are readily accessible and salient form of childrens television
programming. However, very little research has been conducted on the gender
relevant content of childrens cartoons since 1990 (Thompson and Zerbinos, 1995;
Eick, 1998; Leaper, Breed, Hofman, & Perlman, 2000; Thompson, Zerbinos, 1997).
Ogletree, Martinez, Turner, and Mason (2004) in two studies interviewed the
gender-relevant personality characteristics of four human characters (trainers): Ash
(a boy), Misty (a girl), James (a boy), and Jesse (a girl) in the first study from 151

college students and in the second study from 62 elementary school children who
watched Pokemon cartoons. The studies found that less than 50% of the children
could name a female Pokemon, and participants were more likely to choose a boy
than a girl as a favorite trainer. Male Pokemon and trainers may be more central to
the cartoon, and counter-stereotypical gender portrayals may be one way to portray
a bad character even more negatively.
Social Cognitive Theory (Bandura, 1986,1994) suggests that children learn
and model much from television. Durkin (1985) argues that children obtain
information about gender roles from television and model their behavior based on
TV characters. Thus, although there is a preponderance of evidence regarding the
stereotyped presentation of male and female characters in cartoons (Oliver, 2001;
Leaper, Breed, Hofman, & Perlman, 2000; Eick, 1998; Ogletree, Martinez, Turner,
& Mason 2004; Thompson & Zerbinos, 1995), there is little evidence that shows
how younger children actually perceive and understand these cartoons.
In a study (Thompson & Zerbinos, 1997), examined childrens perceptions
about gender roles from cartoons and how these cartoons might interact with and/ or
color their view of the world. He interviewed 89 children ranging in age from 4 to 9
in three different locations for this exploratory study. The findings of this study
indicated several results. First, most children recognized the fact that there are more
boys than girls in cartoons and that boys talk more. Second, boy characters were

seen as engaging in more violent and silly/ amusing behaviors than are girl
characters. Third, boys also selected more gender-stereotypic jobs for themselves
than did girls. Fourth, those children who noticed more gender-stereotypic behaviors
in cartoons also reported more stereotypical job aspirations for themselves and
others. Fifth, types of cartoons commonly viewed and preferred were associated
with reports of different behaviors in the characters. Sixth, boys watched more
cartoons in general and more continuing adventure cartoons in particular than did
girls. Finally, children whose mothers worked outside the home reported that boy
characters in cartoons engaged in fewer stereotypically male behaviors than did
children whose mothers did not work outside the home.
In another study, Coover (2001) assessed the ways in which White viewers
responses to race representation corresponds to strategies of White racial identity
accommodation. The sample consisted of 175 participants. Participants indicated
more liking for Black as opposed to White commentators. Participants perceived the
greatest difference between a Black and a White commentator who disagreed, but
least difference between Black and White commentators who agreed with each

In addition to differences in preferences for commentator, Lusane (1999)
indicated that survey consistently show that Blacks and Whites watch dramatically
different network television programs (Farhi, 1994). The ten top programs most
watched by afro-Americans were not in the list of programs frequently viewed by
Whites. The Whites prefer shows that are called White story lines. However, there
is one expectation to those shows, the one White show that consistently appeared
in the top ten shows watched by Blacks: Married...With Children.
Several projects focused on the relationship between race/ethnicity and
violent/criminal behavior (Gilens, 1999; Gilliam & Iyengar, 1998; Gilliam et al.,
1996; Johnson, Adams, Hall, & Ashbum, 1997, Oliver & Fonash, 2002; Peffley,
Sheilds & Williams, 1996; cited in, Dixon, Azoca,r & Casas, 2003). A content
analysis (Dixon, Azocar, & Casas, 2003) was designed to assess the portrayal of
race and criminal behavior on television network. Findings indicated that whites
were more likely than African Americans to appear as perpetrators, victims, and
officers. Whites were overrepresented while African Americans were
underrepresented as victims of violent crime. In addition, Whites were
overrepresented and African Americans were underrepresented as police officers.
By analyzing not the frequency in which characters of racial groups appear,
but more importantly, the nature in which they are depicted, Mastro and Stem
(2003) analyzed the frequency, context, and quality of 2,315 speaking characters in

a one-week sample of prime-time television commercials. Their analyses indicated
that while Blacks were generally portrayed in more diverse, equitable manner, and
at a rate commensurate to the population, Asian Americans, Latinos, and Native
Americans remain underrepresented, and at times, negatively depicted.
Television commercials are a potentially rich and influential source of
messages about social groups for children. If television advertisements targeted at
children present stable patterns of race representation, these messages about race
will be repeated many times over to a relatively receptive audience. Vollmer and
Meredith (2002) examined the visibility, status, and roles assigned to major U.S.
racial groups in 1,487 commercial broadcast during childrens programming on 8
American stations over 1 weekday and 1 weekend day in Seattle, Washington. The
study found that commercials privileged Whites by showing them in every type of
commercial and role. Whites were only characters in high-status roles and, in
comparison to racial minorities, were significantly more likely to be spokespeople,
initiators of action, and problem solvers. In addition, modest improvements in the
demographics of child-targeted commercials were significant when weighed against
the racial bias evident in the depiction of social power.
One of a few studies to examine empirically the portrayal of race and
interracial relationships available in television commercials in childrens television
programming, was Larsons (2002) study. The purpose of this study was to describe

the portrayal of children in television commercials as related to racial
representation, types of settings, interactions, activities, and products advertised in
commercials in which White children and AH AN A (African American, Hispanic,
Asian, and Native American) children were portrayed together compared to when
White children were alone. The study found positive portrayals in the racial
representation, the presence of diversity within commercials, and that White and
AHANA children were portrayed interacting and communicating in cooperative
ways. However, while commercials featuring only White children were plentiful,
and commercials featuring only AHANA children were rare.
Children can get messages about television characters from how they are
drawn, how they behave, and how they speak. When these messages contain verbal,
behavioral, and linguistic stereotypes, or when there are few or no images to
contradict these stereotypes, it seems fair to assume that children may internalize
these images of themselves and others. Then, it is indeed possible to depict male and
female characters from a variety of ethnic backgrounds in ways free of visual,
behavioral, or linguistic stereotypes. Dobrow and Gidney (1998) analyzed a sample
of 12 animated programs for children including those aired on cable, networks, and
the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in the Boston area in the fall of 1996. They
coded cartoons by different personality and visual characteristics, dialect, and
foreign accents. The study revealed that childrens animated programming continues

to underrepresent people of color and women. In terms of dialect, gender and
ethnicity were marked by use of dialect stereotypes. In addition, it was significant
that one-quarter of the sample was coded as non-American accents.
For decades, educators and parents have expressed concern over the ways in
which people are portrayed on television. There was a concern that children were
getting a skewed concept about peoples abilities and traits based on stereotypical
representations of gender or race. This fear led to a number of research studies that
analyzed the television roles of men, women, and people of color. According to
Calvert, Stolkin, and Lees (1997) research on gender and ethnic portrayals in
Saturday morning television programs found that male characters spoke an average
of 10 minutes and 46 seconds, while female characters spoke an average of 2
minutes and 55 seconds. Caucasian and ethnic minority representation in the
programs was 73.6% and 26.4%, respectively. Ethnic minority females were not
represented in major roles on the ABC and NBC networks, but were represented on
CBS and FOX 16% and 5% of the time, respectively.
Weigel, & Howes, (1982) in a follow up content analysis (Weigel, Loomis,
& Soja, 1980) studied 14 hours of childrens television in three major networks
(ABC, NBC, and CBS) on three consecutive Saturdays in the spring of 1979. The
purpose of this study was to determine the mediums messages with respect to
cross-racial relationships. Previous research (Weigel, Loomis, & Soja, 1980) found

cross-racial relationships to be cooperative but relatively formalized in comparison
to white-white interactions. In contrast to previous study, this study found that
Black-white relationships were neither more nor less likely than white-white
relationships to involve cooperative interdependence, intimacy, multifacetedness,
shared decision-making, or romantic implications in the childrens programming
sampled. However, the low frequency with which cross-racial relationships emerged
in the childrens programming suggests that the potential for prosocial modeling is
Graves (1999) explored the effects of skewed representation of race in
television. First, images of televised intergroup interaction were limited in number
and were somewhat superficial. Second, there were several viable theories of how
stereotyped portrayals and exclusion of racial groups from television contribute to
the development and maintenance of prejudice and discrimination among children.
Third, children can learn racial and nonracial information from television. Short and
long-term exposure to televised racial portrayals can influence their racial attitudes
and perceptions. The exposure to television messages and images can modify
existing racial schemata, including the willingness to play with and be friends with
cross-race peers. There is also evidence that children observe and imitate same-race
and cross-race models (Graves, 1999). Finally, findings from the Sesame Street race
relations curriculum and from the Different and the Same video series suggest that

television and video can positively influence childrens racial knowledge, attitudes,
and preferences.
Television, as a major agent of socialization, has been criticized for
programming that represents gender and race in stereotypical manner even
educational childrens programming. In a content analysis, Loewen (2004)
examined whether unequal or racial representations and gender or racial stereotyped
behavior continue to be prevalent in FCC-Mandated childrens educational
television. Findings indicated that there were still more male than female characters
in these educational shows that characters did not exhibit many of the same gender
stereotyped behavior criticized in non-educational childrens programming. In
contrast to other studies on violence (Larson, 2003), this study showed that females
were shown to be highly aggressive while males were portrayed as more defensive.
Except Hispanics, who were significantly underrepresented, FCC-mandated
childrens educational television shows had fairly accurate representation of race.
Gender. Race, and Violence
Depictions of race, gender, and violence on television have long been a
concern of critics. Previous studies on three major networks (FOX, WB, and UPN)
have found stereotypical characterizations of minorities and females and a
preponderance of physical aggression (Elasmar, Hasegawa, & Brain, 1999;

Glascock, 2001; Signorielli & Bacue, 1999; signorielli & Kahlenberg, 2001; cited
in, Glascock, 2003). However, no content analysis has examined just the three
newer networks primetime programming. Therefore, Glascock (2003) compared
the programming on the three newer networks (FOX, WB, and UPN) to recent
content analyses of programming offered primarily by the traditional networks to
determine gender and minority roles whether it is less stereotypical or more violent.
Glascock analyzed 39 shows, 24 comedies, and 15 dramas on those three networks.
Results revealed that major male and female characters were more equivalent but
females dressed more provocatively. As participants in physical aggression, males
were over-represented. There were also no differences between Black and White
characters in many respects except program segregation. In addition, Black were
more verbally aggressive, particularly in comedies, but less physically aggressive
than warranted by their overall representation.
Murphy (1998) explored how factual and fictional media portrayals may
activate culturally shared racial and gender stereotypes and influence subsequent
judgments involving members of stereotyped groups. Compared to previous
research (Power, Murphy, & Coover, 1996), this study found exposure to a
stereotypical or counterstereotypical portrayal primes consistent interpretations of
unrelated events. Both cognitive and motivational factors such as ingroup-outgroup
bias appeared to influence the relative weight given factual as opposed to fictional

portrayals. This study also suggested how media portrayal might successfully
reduce prejudice.
A recent contemporary research (Glascock, 2001) of 94 prime time network
television in regards to gender role representation shows for adults found that while
some inequities were persisted, continued progress seemed to be the norm. Males
were found still more physically aggressive, but females were more verbally
aggressive, especially in comedies. It is important that the researcher not only
considered the content of gender-stereotyped portrayals and their effects on viewers,
but also studied the role of viewers responses to and enjoyment of such content as
Research from another study (Oliver, 1998) on 400 undergraduate students
in this area indicated that females reported greater disturbance in response to
distressing film scenes greater enjoyment of tragedy and less enjoyment of violence,
and greater empathetic responsiveness to film characters than males did. In addition,
communal participants (who had negative value) reported greater disturbance in
response to distressing film scenes (violent or tragic), greater enjoyment of tragedy
and less enjoyment of violence, and greater empathetic responsiveness to film
characters than would agentic participants (who had positive value).
If aggression is viewed as a sequence of interactions in which different
meanings are given to events from different perspectives, television becomes a

powerful tool for examining meanings of violence that cannot be elicited by simple
rating scales. In 1994, Tulloch assessed responses of 1135 students ranging in age
from 9 to 16 years, in public schools to six televised excerpts about violence in
Sydney, Australia. According to the results, there were no single patterns of age,
social class, or gender differences. Younger students were more likely than older
students to endorse authority position. In general, female and middle-class students
were more rejecting of violence. However, in response to the portrayal of violence
during an industrial dispute, the results were opposite. Overall, a sub-cultural and
context-dependent interpretation of audience of televised violence was supported by
findings (Tulloch, 1994).
A few dated studies with small sample sizes, have dealt with the prevalence
of violence and aggression in commercials during childrens television
programming. Larson (2003) sought to describe the nature and amount of
aggression in commercials that features children and were aired during childrens
television programming. The study showed that more than one-third of the
commercials that featured child characters included some type of aggression.
Commercials that featured only White children had somewhat more incidents of
aggression than those featured White children and children of color. Still
commercials that featured boys and girls together had the most incidents of

In todays mass-mediated consumer society, popular culture artifacts like
television play an increasingly important role in the construction of reality and the
maintenance of social hierarchy. Consciously and unconsciously, people rely on
television imagery to interpret and understand their everyday lives. Even when we
try to ignore television commercials, they provide available a set of cognitive
stereotypes that are called into play during routine interaction. One study focused on
the intersection of race and gender by examining which characters in mid-1990s
television commercials exercised authority or fulfilled romantic and domestic
fantasies (Coltrane & Messineo, 2000). This study reported on a content analysis of
1699 television commercials aired on programs with high ratings for specific target
audiences from 1992 to 1994. Findings revealed that white or male characters in the
television commercials enjoyed prominence and then exercised more authority.
Also, images of romantic and domestic fulfillment differed by race and gender, with
women and Whites disproportionately shown in family settings and in cross-sex
interactions. In general, 1990s television commercials tended to portray White men
as powerful, White women as sex subject, African American men as aggressive, and
African American women as inconsequential.
Just as television programming can reinforce stereotyped notions of gender,
it is also possible to use this medium to change childrens gender stereotypes. A
study (Leaper, Breed, Hofman, & Perlman, 2000) examined the gender-stereotyped

content of childrens TV network cartoons across four genres: traditional adventure,
nontraditional adventure, educational/family, and comedy. The findings indicated
that in the educational/family genre cartoons acting negatively, showing physical
aggression, and being a victim were significantly less likely than any of the other
three genres. Romantic behavior was significantly more likely in the traditional
adventure and the comedy genres than the other genres. Only in the traditional
adventure genre, male characters were more likely than female characters to use
physical aggression. Behaviors like showing fear, acting romantic, being polite, and
acting supportive were relatively more likely among female characters across
Considering that the portrayal of ethnicity and gender in childrens television
are important issues, Dobrow and Gidney (1998) analyzed a sample of 12 animated
programs for children including those aired on cable, networks, and the Public
Broadcasting Service (PBS) in the Boston area in the fall of 1996. They coded
cartoons by different personality and visual characteristics, dialect and foreign
accents. The study revealed that childrens animated programming continues to
underrepresent people of color and women. In terms of dialect, gender and ethnicity
were marked by use of dialect stereotypes. In addition, it was significant that one-
quarter of the sample was coded as non-American accents.

PBS and Toon Disney Channels
Public Broadcasting Services (PBS) recommended in 1967 the use of
childrens television as means of social reform. A private, nonprofit corporation
founded in 1996 whose members are Americas public TV stations. The national
programming service is the major package of programs that PBS distributes to its
member stations. It features high quality childrens, cultural, educational, history,
nature, news, public affairs, science and skills television programming. Programs
are obtained from PBS stations, independent producers and sources around the
world. PBS does not produce programs. Nowadays PBS is known as childrens
educational-programming, window on the world, still holds some gleaming
remnants of its illustrious past, carefully channeled young hands can still find
Sesame Street, Mister Rogers Neighborhood, Inside-Out, and Self-Incorporated,
and the window cape reveals newer such as square one TV (math) and Where in the
World is Carmen Sandiego (Geography) (Steinberg & Kincheloe, 1997). However,
children around the world need a budding new Big, Blue Marble, a television series
produced in the United States to alert childrens views about children from other
cultures and parts of the world (Gunter & McAleer, 1997).
PBS Ready To Learn helps to increase school readiness for all of Americas
children with an unrivaled line-up of educational and entertaining childrens
programming each weekday, coupled with short educational video spots. The value

and impact of these programs are enhanced through outreach services provided by
more than many local PBS stations to their communities, including workshops, free
childrens books, a magazine and other learning resources to help parents, teachers
and child-care providers prepare young children to enter school ready to learn.
Developed in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Education, PBS Ready to
Learn has helped nearly one million parents and teachers prepare eight million
children for success in school (Berry & Asamen, 1993).
PBS, only a single stop on the TV dial, can hardly be a total childrens
channel for the very simple reason that if a given hour is programmed for
preschoolers, then school-age kids have nowhere to turn and these are, in any case,
not exactly the best of times for PBS. Clearly, it is important to think about the ways
in which various social roles and groups are portrayed on television, because they
can have an important influence in shaping childrens views of the world (Steinberg
& Kincheloe, 1997).
Childrens television shows are television programs designed for and
marketed to children, normally aired during the morning and afternoon hours, and
often with purpose of educating a young audience about basic life skills or ideas.
Childrens television is nearly as old as television itself. Early childrens television
was often marketing branch of a large corporate product such as Disney as
commercial that rarely contained an educational element while there was a Public

Broadcast Services (PBS) with concept of educational programs for children
(Steinberg & Kincheloe, 1997; Berry & Asamen, 1993).
The Disney channel is a cable TV network run by the Walt Disney Company
that went on the air in 1973. Disney channel features family-oriented programming,
much of it aimed at preteens and younger adolescents. The Walt Disney Company is
a powerful force in creating childhood culture all over the world. Presenting a
worldview based on innocence, magic, and fun. Behind the images of innocence and
fantasy, however, is a transnational media corporation owing media production
companies, studios, theme parks, television and radio networks, cable TV systems,
magazines, and Internet sites. Disney is now one of the largest media corporations
that dominated control most of the mass media in the extent to which our view of
the world may be skewed by such a concentration of power in these corporations
that mediate images of our world to us, and the resulting impact on informed
participation in our democratic society. Disneys impact is especially worrisome in
view of its role as a major purveyor of the stories that will be used to construct
childrens imaginary worlds as well as their notions of the real world (Steinberg &
Kincheloe, 1997).
According to Seiter (1993), representation of gender in Disney movies
revealed that the female characters present a distorted version of fiminity, highly
sexualized bodies, and coy seductiveness, always needing to be rescued by a male.

Snow White cleans the dwarfs cottage to ingratiate herself; Ariel gives up her voice
in order to win the prince with her body in The Little Mermaid, Mulan almost
single-handedly wins the war only to return home to be romanced; and Beauty and
the Beasts Belle endures an abusive and violent Beast in order to redeem him.
Representation of race and ethnicity in Disney animated features are notable
for their general scarcity, and when they do appear, they tend to reinforce cultural
stereotypes about these groups for example, Latinos as irresponsible Chihuahuas in
Lady and the Tramp and Oliver and Company, African-American as jive crows in
Dumbo, as human-wannabe orangutans in Jungle Book, and totally absent in
Tarzans Africa; Latinos and African-American as street-gang thugs in The Lion
King-, Asians as trea cherous Siamese Cats in Lady and the Tramp-, Arabs as
barbarians in Aladdin; and Native-Americans as savage in Peter Pan and
Pocahontas (Seiter, 1993; Steinberg & Kincheloe, 1997).
For several years, the channel also showcased programs for adults, such as
concerts, classic movies, and original series such as the US-Canadian co-production
Road to Avonlea. There are two Disney channels for children, Ton Disney and
Playhouse Disney. The only actual spinoff of the Disney channel is Toon Disney,
which features cartoons either created or distributed by Disney. I chose Toon
Disney as branch of Disney channel for this study to compare that to Public
Broadcast Services (PBS) for several reasons. First, it is so recognizable to the

general public. Second, it is so identified with all things American that its lessons
are more easily generalized to other U.S. media giants. Third, its targeting of our
children as profit centers should offend as more than any comparable marketing
aimed at adults (Steinberg & Kincheloe, 1997).
Theoretical Framework
This study is grounded in two theories of media effects. One is Social
Learning Theory (Bandura, 1977, 1986) that explains children learn behaviors,
which are considered appropriate for their gender through observations of others, as
well as through messages communicated by the media in, particular, television. The
Social Learning Theory has largely tested with the behavior modeled for children in
film and television. In such context television becomes one of the many different
factors that contributes to gender role development, although there has been little
research conducted with the specific interactions of examining televisions influence
in the forming of gender roles. The characters race/ethnicity also has been found to
be an especially salient indicator of behavior modeled for children (Jose & Brewer,
1984 cited in Graves, 1999) as studies reveal that children are more likely to report
identifying with and wanting to be like media characters of their own racial/ethnic
background (Greenberg & Atkin, 1982).

The second is Cultivation Theory, which takes into consideration how much
television children watch. Based on this theory, the more television a child watches,
the more likely he/she will be to believe and assimilate the gender and racial
stereotypes that are represented (Gerbner, Gross, Morgan & Signorielli, 1994;
Graves, 1999). This model suggests that the constant drip of restricted images would
lead young viewers to develop gender and racial stereotypes.
There were no studies that focus on content of PBS or Disney channel about
gender and race and stereotypes. Both channels have very different goals
considering childrens television programming. Obviously, PBS as an educational/
non-profit organization and Disney as a commercial/profitable corporation portray
gender and race in very stereotypical ways. The purpose of this study then was to
compare the portrayals of male/female and White/ Non-White in childrens
television programming between PBS and Toon Disney channels. It is important to
assess the images that are targeted to the youngest viewed in order to try to assess
whether children are exposed to the portrayals of gender and race at a very early
age. This study compares the frequency of childrens programming that include
male/female and White/Non-White characters as well as the types of characteristics,
interactions, and settings between PBS and Toon Disney channels that feature

Research Questions and Key Issues
Research question 1. Are there any differences in gender and race
representation in childrens television programs between PBS and Disney channels
(All characters in each segment)? It is expected that Toon Disney channel will
portray more male characters than PBS channel and PBS channel will show more
Non-Whites characters than Toon Disney channel.
Research question2. Are there any differences in gender-role stereotyping in
childrens television programs between PBS and Disney channels (Major
character)? The expectation is that Toon Disney channel will portray both male and
female characters in more gender-role stereotypical way than PBS channel.
(a) . Male characters are more likely to exhibit the following characteristics
significantly more than female characters: masculine, undomestic, technical
and are in bigger size than female characters. Female characters will exhibit
more feminine, domestic, untechnical, and are in smaller size than male
(b) . Compare to female characters, male characters are more likely to appear
in more of the following interaction: aggression, leadership, rescue, villainy,
hardiness, independence, dominance, and athleticism. Female characters will
portray more of the following: victim of aggression, following, dependence,

victim being rescued, submissive, responsibility, frailty, attractiveness, and
(c). Male characters are more likely to be exhibited in more of the following
setting: non-human, urban, outside (outdoor), and other alien planet. Female
characters will appear more in human, suburban, inside (indoor), and the
earth setting.
Research question3. Are there any differences in race stereotyping in
childrens television programs between PBS and Disney channels (Major
character)? The expectation with regard to this research question is that Toon
Disney channel is more likely to portray White and Non-Whites characters in more
racial stereotypical way than PBS. Specifically,
(a) . White characters are more likely to show more of the following
characteristics: undomestic, technical.
(b) . Compare to Non-Whites, White characters are more likely to show the
following interactions: aggressive, independent, dominant, leader, rescue,
hardy, responsible, heroic, and active while Non-Whites are more likely to
appear as victims of aggression, unathletic, dependent, submissive, follower,
often being rescued, frail, irresponsible, villains, and passive.
(c) . White characters are more likely to be portrayed in urban setting.

The goals of the content analysis are to identify and assess the most current
and stable patterns of television content such as consistent images, portrayals, and
values that cut across most types of programs (Morgan & Signorielli, 1990; Holsti,
1969). In this study, content analysis was used to find recurrent patterns in
characters representation of gender and race in childrens television programming
showed on PBS and Toon Disney channels.
A one-week random sample of 15 hours of childrens television
programming (PBS, 6:30 A.M. to 5:30 P.M. and Toon Disney, 24 hours, Monday-
Friday, Central Standard Time) across two broadcast networks (PBS and Toon
Disney) was recorded between December 6 and December 10,2004. In order to
achieve a random sample, the program time periods were assigned numbers based
on a random number table and then 60 segments, each 15 minutes in length, were
randomly drawn from the sample pool.
The PBS childrens programs included Mister Rogers Neighborhood,
Arthur, Teletubbies, Sesame Street, Between Lions, Reading Rainbow, Dragon
Tales, Jay the Jet Plane, Clifford, and Zoom. The Toon Disney childrens programs

were The Proud Family, Weekender, Lloyd in Space, Recess, Tarzan, X-Men,
Spiderman, Teamo Supremo, House of Mouse, Fillmore, Buzz Lightyear of Star
Command, The New Adventure of Winnie the Pooh, Digimon, Hercules, and Three
Disney Movies (The Alcatraz Island, The Atlantis Island, andAleu). All 10
childrens programs from PBS and 16 childrens program from Toon Disney
representing 15 hours (7:30 for PBS and 7:30 for Toon Disney) of programming
were not repeated which is important because the sample was random without any
The programs or shows in this study were observed for the first 15 minutes
not including commercials (Aubery & Harrison, 2004). The major characters were
defined as regular characters who had recurrent appearances and developed roles
within the program continually. The independent variables were the types of TV
channels for children; those used in this study were Toon Disney and PBS. The
dependent variables were the gender and race representations in those TV channels.
The dependent variables were defined as gender-role characteristics, gender-
role interactions, gender-role settings, and race interaction. In addition to differences
between the male and female sex, there were gender role characteristics that
included the attributes of the visual representation of the main characters.

Definition of Variables
Gender-role characteristics (Bern, 1981) were:
1. Male/ Female difference that was defined by image, voice, and
- Strongly masculine was defined by dress, short hair, and
deep voice.
- Strongly feminine is defined by dress, long hair, wearing
make up, and high-pitched voice.
- Androgynous was defined by some feminine and some
2. Domestic- Activities related to home and family (e.g., cleaning,
cooking, gardening).
- Undomestic- Activities not related to home or family (e.g.,
working, driving, participating in sport, traveling).
3. Technical- Exhibiting skills that require technical or professional
knowledge (e.g., flying an airplane, working with computer,
practicing music).
- Untechnical- Simple activities that require no technical or
professional skills (cleaning home, talking).
4. Size- Main character is taller or longer in size.

- Male was taller or longer than female.
- Female was taller or longer than male.
- Male and female were the same size.
Gender-role interaction (Calvert, Kotler, Zehnder, & Shockey, 2003) was
defined as:
1. Physical aggression- To hit (by hand, bicycle, car, truck,
motorcycle), injure, attack, kick, bite, push, force, threaten and use
any weapon (gun, knife), or show fighting moves.
- Victim of physical aggression- Being hit (by hand, bicycle, car, truck,
motorcycle), threatened by any weapon (gun, knife), injured,
attacked, kicked, bitten, pushed, or forced by others.
- Not present- There is no physical aggression or be victim of physical
2. Amount of physical aggression:
1. One type of aggression.
2. More than one type of aggression.
3. Verbal Aggression- To threaten, insult, scream, yell, and curse at
Victim of verbal aggression- Being threatened, insulted, screamed at,
yelled at, or cursed at by others.

- Not present- There was no verbal or victim of verbal aggression.
4. Amount of verbal aggression
1. One type of aggression.
2. More than one type of aggression.
5. Leadership- To give orders, advice, instructions, punishment, or
approval, answer questions, show authority, or pass judgment.
Follower- To take orders, receive advice, ask questions, follow
instructions, listen to authority, or be punished.
- Not present- There are not any leader or follower characters.
6. Rescue- To free another from danger.
- Victim being rescued- To be freed from danger by others.
- Not present- There is not any rescue or victim being rescued.
7. Independent- To be autonomous, self-directed, secure, separate,
decisive, or self-confident.
Dependent- To need support, confirmation, or encouragement, other
directed, insecure, or indecisive.
- Not present- There is not any independent or dependent character.
8. Dominant- To control, intimidate, give orders, or have power over

- Submissive- To take orders, follow others instructions, or be under
the powers of others.
- Not present- There are not any dominant or submissive characters.
9. Villainy- To be capable or guilty of crime, plan to harm others.
- Hero- To save others, be admired by others.
- Not present- Cannot be distinguished.
10. Athletic- To play, view, or support any kind of sport, wear the
uniform of an athlete, or wear any symbol of athletics.
Unathletic- Do not play, view, or support any kind of sport, not wear
any athletes uniform, or not wear any symbol of athletics.
- Not present- Cannot be distinguished.
11. Romantic- To flirt, have a sexual appearance, show love, or romantic
Unromantic- To not flirt, have a sexual appearance, show love, or
romantic feeling.
- Not present- Cannot be distinguished.
12. Frail- To lack strength; to be fragile, not firm.
Hardy- To be strong, firm, vigorous, robust.
- Not present- There is not any frail or hardy character.

13. Responsible- To be accountable, complete tasks, or to be good to
their word.
Irresponsible- Is not accountable, does not complete tasks, or are not
good to their word.
- Not present- Cannot be distinguished.
Gender-role setting was defined in order to determine whether there was a
tendency to portray the certain gender in primary environment, locality,
domestic, time, and place settings. The categories of settings were:
1. Environment setting-
Human- To be related to humanity.
- Non-human- To not be related to humanity like animal or alien.
- Not present- Cannot be distinguished.
2. Locality-
- Clearly urban- To be in an apartment, office, townhouse, or
Clearly suburban- To be in a house with a large yard.
- Clearly rural- To be in a farm, a National Park, a forest, or a wild
life preserves.
- Others.
- Cannot be distinguished.

3. Domestic-
- Clearly inside- To be in the kitchen, bedroom, or living room.
Clearly outside- To be in the yard or driveway.
- Mixed- To be inside and outside.
- Others- To be in the playground or water slide.
Cannot be distinguished.
4. Time-
- Future- To be in the future time.
Now- To be in the present time.
- Past- To be in the former time.
Cannot be distinguished.
5. Place-
- Clearly on the earth- To be on the world or our planet.
Clearly on the other alien planet- To not be on the world or our
- Others.
Cannot be distinguished.
A race characteristic was defined as skin Tone and facial features. These
characteristics (All characters in each segment) were:

1. All White- To be determined by light skin color, or European facial
2. All Non-White
- African-American- To be determined by dark skin color facial
features, or African dark hair color.
- Native-American- To be determined by light brown skin color
facial features, long braided hair, or leather beaded, fringed, or
feathered clothing.
- Asian- To be determined by facial features like almond shaped eyes
and dark straight hair.
- Hispanic- To be determined by light brown skin color and dark
hair, or poncho shirt clothing.
3. Balance between Whites and Non-Whites
4. Cannot be distinguished
Race stereotyping was defined as the following interactions (Major
1. Physical aggression- To hit (by hand, bicycle, car, truck,
motorcycle), injure, attack, kick, bite, push, force, threaten and use
any weapon (gun, knife), or show fighting moves.

- Victim of physical aggression- Being hit (by hand, bicycle, car, truck,
motorcycle), threatened by any weapon (gun, knife), injured,
attacked, kicked, bitten, pushed, or forced by others.
- Not present- There is no physical aggression or being victim of
physical aggression.
2. Amount of physical aggression:
1. One type of aggression.
2. More than one type of aggression.
3. Verbal Aggression- To threaten, insult, scream, yell, and curse at
- Victim of verbal aggression- Being threatened, insulted, screamed at,
yelled at, or cursed at by others.
- Not present- There was no verbal or victim of verbal aggression.
4. Amount of verbal aggression
1. One type of aggression.
2. More than one type of aggression.
5. Villainy- To be capable or guilty of crime, plan to harm others.
Hero- To save others, be admired by others.
- Not present- There is no villain or hero character.

6. Active- To be leader, take action, self-serving, rational, goal-
oriented, independent, respected, motivator, initiate, instrumental, or
Passive- To be dependent, gentle, follower, emotional, unassertive,
peaceful, negotiator, or merciful.
- Not present- There is not any active or passive character.
Empirical Analysis
Because of the original small sample size and a wide coverage of many
aspects of the issues, the resulting number of usable cases, after excluding the
missing values and unusable categories, prevented it from doing formal hypothesis
testing. For example, many cell frequencies of my interested variables were only in
one digit or even zero. As a result, my analysis will be based on frequency,
percentage, and ratio comparisons. This type of analysis is very important in terms
of describing the reality of childrens programming on these TV channels, and a
critical step in the process of detecting the patterns and trends embedded in these
TV shows.

During weekday childrens programming, a total of 60 segments (30
segments for PBS and 30 segments for Toon Disney) were aired. Each segment was
15 minutes in length. It appeared some segments had more than one major
character. In all, there were a total of 119 major characters among the 60 segments
of childrens programming on both PBS and Toon Disney channels.
According to table 1, across all 60 segments, male characters outnumbered
females in both PBS and Toon Disney channels (23.1% to 13.8%). As expected in
research question 1, Toon Disney portrayed more male characters (39.3%) than PBS
(6.9%). Thus, the expectation is supported by the results. It is notable that, in
general, there was a balance between male and female characters on PBS and Toon
Disney channels (65.5% to 60.7%).
Similarly, about race representation, Toon Disney showed more White
characters (88.6% to 21.8%) while PBS channel portrayed more Non-White
characters (82.6% to 17.4%). More importantly, PBS channel showed White and
Non-White together more than Toon Disney did (18.8% to 2.3%).

Table 1. Differences in Gender and Racial Composition of All Characters in
Childrens TV Programming between PBS and Toon Disney Channels
Gender and Racial Differentiation TV Station
PBS Toon Disney
Male Only 6.95 39.3%
Female Only 27.6% 0%
White Only 21.8% 88.6%
Non-White Only 82.6% 17.4%
Overall, there were 117 major characters among 60 segments on both
channels. There was a noticeable difference in gender of major characters in
childrens television programs aired on PBS and Disney channels. Major male
characters appeared more on Toon Disney than PBS (73.3% to 61.4%)
As can be seen in Table 2, Toon Disney also exhibited many more White
major characters than PBS (83.7% to 50.0% whereas PBS channel showed Non-
White major characters 50.0% more than Toon Disney channel withl6.3%.

Table 2. Differences in Gender and Racial Composition of Major Characters in
Childrens TV Programming between PBS and Toon Disney Channels
Gender and Racial TV Station
Differentiation PBS Toon Disney
Male 61.4% 73.3%
Female 38.6% 26.7%
White 50.0% 83.7%
Non-White 50.0% 16.3%
To address research question 2, gender role and race stereotypes were
analyzed by three categories: characteristics, interactions, and settings. As expected
in research question 2, Toon Disney portrayed both male and female characters in
more stereotypical ways than PBS. This is basically consistent with the expectation
regarding research question 2 Toon Disney channel compared to PBS, exhibited
male major characters in more undomestic (2.8 to 1.7), technical (4.8 to 1.8), and
bigger size (2.3 to 1.1) (Table 3).
The results from gender representation by interaction of major characters in
childrens television programming showed that Toon Disney channel, compared to
PBS channel, portrayed male major characters in the following interactions more:

Physical aggression (2.9 to 1.0), verbal aggression (2.2 to 1.0), athletic (10.0 to 1.0),
independent (2.8 to 1.5), dominant (3.3 to 1.4), leader (11.0 to 1.1), rescue (1.9 to
0.5), hero (1.8 to 0.5), romantic (5.0 to 0.9), hardy (2.5 to 1.6), responsible (2.2 to
1.7), active (2.7 to 1.7) (Table 3).
Based on Table 3, the results about gender representation of major characters
by setting did not turn out completely as expected. Compared to PBS, Toon Disney
portrayed male major characters in more human environments (2.1 to 1.4), urban
(2.3 to 1.5), outside (6.0 to 1.9), and on the earth (2.4 to 1.6).

Table 3. Differences in Gender-Role Representation of Major Characters in
Childrens TV Programming between PBS and Toon Disney Channels
TV Station PBS Toon Disney
Sex of Major Characters Male/Female Ratio Male/Female Ratio
Outcome Variable
Undomestic 1.7 2.8
Technical 1.8 4.8
Bigger size 1.1 2.3
Physical Aggression 1.0 2.9
Verbal Aggression 1.0 2.2
Athletic 1.0 10.0
Independent 1.5 2.8
Dominant 1.4 3.3
Leader 1.1 11.0
Rescue 0.5 1.9
Hero 2.5 1.8
Romantic 0.9 5.0
Hardy 1.6 2.5
Responsible 1.4 2.2
Active 1.7 2.7
Human Environment 1.4 2.1
Urban 1.5 2.3
Outside 1.9 6.0
On the earth 1.6 2.4

As for research question 3, race representation of major characters in
childrens television programming was considered by three categories:
characteristics, interactions, and settings. The results are shown in Table 4. For
characteristics, Toon Disney exhibited White major characters more as undomestic
(5.8 to 0.8), technical (30.0 to 1.1), and in a bigger size (5.7 to 0.3).
Table 4 shows the results of racial representation by type of interaction
between both PBS and Toon Disney channels. Toon Disney portrayed White major
characters more as athletic (4.5 to 0.8), independent (8.2 to 0.8), dominant (9.0 to
0.6), leader (9.5 to 1.2), rescue (13.9 to 1.0), hardy (5.7 to 0.9), responsible (5.4 to
0.7), and active (8.0 to 0.9) than PBS channel did. However, White major characters
were portrayed in more urban settings (5.1 to 0.8) in Toon Disney than Non-White
major characters. Thus, the findings in table 4 are, mostly, consistent with the

Table 4. Differences in Race Representation of Major Characters in Childrens TV
Programming between PBS and Toon Disney Channels
TV Station PBS Toon Disney
Sex of Major Characters White/Non-White Ratio White/Non-White Ratio
Outcome Variables
Undomestic 0.8 5.8
Technical 1.1 30.3
Bigger size 0.3 5.7
Athletic 0.8 4.5
Independent 0.8 8.2
Dominant 0.6 9.0
Leader 1.2 9.5
Rescue 1.0 13.9
Hardy 0.9 5.7
Responsible 0.7 5.4
Active 0.9 8.0
Urban 0.8 5.1

The portrayals of gender and race on television contribute to the construction
of social reality by children and the results of this study give some cautious
optimism. The presence of different gender and race diversity on both PBS and
Toon Disney channels may well be healthy for society. This study found many
differences between samples of PBS and Toon Disney channels that had been
broadcast on childrens television in terms of gender and race representations.
Three research questions were raised, dealing with the presence of
male/female and White/Non-White characters, their characteristics, interactions, and
settings of major characters. The results of this content analysis answered all three
questions in a certain degree. As expected in research question 1, Toon Disney
channel portrayed more male and White characters than PBS channel and the result
of this study is consistent with the previous research (Eick, 1998; Loewen, 2004;
Thompson & Zerbinos, 1997; Bamer, 1999; Dobrow & Gidney, 1998; Calvert,
Stolkin, & Lee, 1997; Seiter, 1993; Smith, 1994). Based on these results, a
preliminary conclusion that may be drawn from this study is that females and Non-
Whites were underrepresented in childrens television programming on Toon
Disney channel. It is possible that girls and children of color will find a lack of role
models or characters with whom to identify and also they may think women/girls

and Non-Whites are less important than men/boys and Whites (Signorielli, 1990).
However, girls may be more likely to choose male characters as role models than
boys are to select female characters (Mastro & Stem, 2003; Greenberg & Atkin,
1982; Aubrey & Harrison, 2004; Graves, 1999). The results of this study revealed
that PBS channel showed male/female and White/Non-White almost the same
balance. Studies (Loewen, 2004; Dobrow & Gidney, 1998) showed childrens
television on PBS introduced more variety of shows such as Mister Rogers
Neighborhood, Sesame Street, Zoom, and reading Rainbow to a cast of gender and
racially diverse characters than other TV channels like Disney and Nickelodeon
(Bryant & Zillmann, 1994; Gunter & McAleer, 1997). By modeling gender and
racial diversity, PBS channel helped pave the way for other shows on different
channels to follow suit, and today there are many childrens programs that reflect
the rich gender and racial diversity of the world in which children live.
There were also differences between gender and race in terms of
representation of major characters on PBS and Toon Disney channels. Toon Disney
showed more male and White major characters than PBS channel, whereas PBS
channel portrayed more female and Non-White major characters than Toon Disney
channel. The ratio of male/female major characters demonstrated many differences
between PBS and Toon Disney channels. The results indicated that the
representation of both males and females in childrens television programming on

Toon Disney was largely more traditional and stereotypical than PBS channel. This
study like previous studies (Seiter, 1993; Thompson, & Zerbinos, 1995; Larson,
2003) found that Toon Disney portrayed male major characters in more physical and
verbal aggression interactions. Compared to female major characters, Toon Disney
also showed male major characters as athletic, independent, romantic, dominant,
leader, hero, rescue, hardy, responsible, and active. These results were in line with
past studies (Thompson & Zerbinos, 1995; Smith, 1994; Aubrey & Harrison, 2004;
Coltrance & Messineo, 2000; Bradway, 2004). In addition, compared to PBS, Toon
Disney also showed male major characters in more human environments, urban,
outside, and on the earth settings.
It is notable that this study found that compared to prosocial programming
strategies on PBS, large gender-role stereotypes in childrens programming
appeared to be deeply rooted in the content and characters in childrens television
on Toon Disney channel. Not surprisingly, PBS has shown male/female major
characters in less gender-role stereotypes. Thus, as earlier research (Loewen, 2004)
had shown, PBS tried to portray female/male characters equivalently in less gender-
role stereotypes. Although both PBS and Toon Disney channels are very popular
among child audiences, there is an argument that profitable corporations like Toon
Disney should consider less gender-role stereotypes and pay attention to not only
males, but females too in content of childrens programming. Many parents believe

that Sesame Street is one of the best shows on television for small children. Our
children- boys and girls- are regular viewers. In addition to educational value, lack
of violence, and emphasis on cooperation, the adult characters on the show are
admirably balanced in terms of avoiding sexual stereotypes. However, any parent of
toddlers or preschoolers can testify that the girls on Sesame Street are not very
popular. Is this just because the girls are not marketed via books, tapes, placemats,
and toy dolls the same way the boy are? Or is it that the Sesame Street writers
simply have not developed the girls into the same types of lovable, adorable
personalities that belong to the main characters? Therefore, childrens television
programs producers should be more sensitive to subtle and unintentional gender
One of the most controversial messages that weave in and out of Toon
Disneys shows concerns the portrayals of girls and women. In most of these shows
characters were constructed within narrowly defined gender-roles like being
rescued, submissive, dependent, frail, followers, and passive. Unfortunately,
negative stereotypes about girls and women are reproduced to make these shows
more interesting, fantasy, and innocent. Toon Disney is seen by numerous numbers
of children in the United States and abroad. As far as the issue of gender is
concerned, Disneys view of the relationship between female agency and
empowerment is not merely nostalgic, it borders on being overtly reactionary.

This study is consistent with previous research (Seiter, 1993; Li-Vollmer,
2002; Weigel & Howes, 1982; Mastro & Stem, 2003) notably; Toon Disney
portrayed White/Non-White major characters in more racial stereotypes. On Toon
Disney White major characters exhibited more as undomestic, technical, in a bigger
size, athletic, independent, dominant, leader, rescue, hardy, responsible, active and
in urban environment. Consequently, research question 3 was answered to a certain
degree by the findings of this study. Toon Disney still underrepresented Non-White
characters in childrens television programming and it also portrayed White/Non-
White major characters in very racial stereotypes. When Sesame Street in PBS
channel debuted in 1969, children were not only introduced to a variety of furry,
lovable creatures, and a plethora of numbers and letters, but also to a cast of racially
diverse characters who lived in the neighborhood.
Based on Cultivation Theory (Gerbner, Gross, Morgan & Signorielli, 1994;
Graves, 1999), the world of television becomes the social reality of the child
audiences. Children viewers who do not see images of the same-gender and same-
race may believe that the invisible gender and race are powerless and unimportant in
the society. However, in sight of Social Learning Theory (Bandura, 1977, 1986),
children audiences may think in real life, all males and Whites are heroes, leaders,
independent, rescues, active, and responsible while all females and Non-Whites are
dependent, being rescued, submissive, followers, romantic, and passive, but it is not

true. Children try to imitate from role models that they observe in childrens
television programming then they learn gender and race stereotypes lessons from
these popular channels.
As an educator channel, PBS tries to balance both gender and all kinds of
races and portrays less gender and racial bias in childrens television programming.
Toon Disney as a commercial and entertainment channel represents both
male/female and White/Non-White in very stereotypical ways.

The findings of this study indicate that compared to PBS, childrens
television programming airing on Toon Disney continues to underrepresent women
and people of color. It also continues to portray gender and race in highly
stereotypical ways.
PBS programs for children yield a rich and broad array of cultural
variability. The characterization of different gender and races and cultures in these
shows is less stereotyped than in commercial network content like Toon Disney
aimed at children. Moreover, PBS content emphasizes to its young audience that
differences in gender and all kinds of people exist, belong, and are enfranchised in
our pluralistic society. Commercial entertainment content on Toon Disney primarily
ignores the different gender and ethnicity, and places its few female and people of
color in background or service rather than leadership roles, saved for athletic
Television sends out many explicit messages of how men and women act in
society. This is mainly through the way that television still seems to adopt a very
traditional view of society, and in doing so tends to underrepresent women and
portray men as dominant figures. As I mentioned before, some of these studies have
reviewed in this paper indicate that television still adheres to gender role stereotypes

presenting women as dependent, emotional, domestic caregivers, while men as the
supporting breadwinners. Depicting a society in this way has disturbing implications
for what kind of world children believe they are living in. Portraying gender in
dated and traditional roles cannot only influence a childs choice of toys or clothes,
but more importantly than that, television can strongly influence what opportunities
children see for future work and what sense of self respect and pride they have. The
representation of gender roles on television is very pervasive and it is inevitable that
it will influence young childrens views.
Overall, children are completely susceptible to childrens television
programming. If childrens programming continues as it is, children need to be
taught at a very early age that gender is not all it appears to be on television. Parents
need to screen what their children want to watch before they do, and if there are
severe gender role stereotypes in the program (Thompson & Zerbinos, 1995, Smith,
1994; Seiter, 1993; Larson, 2003; Powell & Abels, 2002; Bradway, 2004; Loewen,
2004), then the child should know that what they see on television is not necessarily
how these are in real life. Then, once children discriminate between their favorite
characters on television and society in real life, they might be able to have an open
mind and not fall into the habit of consistently gender role stereotyping themselves
and others. However, the stereotypical behavior that has persists in the presentation
of male and female childrens programming and advertisement characters in all of

the above studies (Thompson & Zerbinos, 1995, Smith, 1994; Seiter, 1993; Larson,
2003; Powell & Abels, 2002; Bradway, 2004; Loewen, 2004) argues that such
portrayals impact children lead to a continuing concern about these issues.
Certainly, this calls for future research among those for whom rigid gender role
stereotypes are seen as a limitation to the development of our culture and our
Television has not yet fulfilled its promise as a positive force in childrens
lives. Through its real and fantasy curriculum, television can present people of
diverse racial and ethnic groups in a vast array of social settings and roles. They
could be intermingled in a wide variety of combinations engaging in the full range
of human pursuits. Given the challenges that national and international diversity
(Fumham, Abramsky, & Gunter, 1997) present, and given the role of television and
new media in the lives of children, we must learn how to better harness them for
benefit of all members of society.
Racially diverse programming can help teach children how to get along in
our multicultural world and can help children learn to value and respect people who
belong to racial groups other than their own (Weigel & Howes, 1982; Mastro &
Stem, 2003; Graves, 1999; Larson, 2002). It also presents an opportunity for the
industry as they focus on the youth market and develop loyal consumers who are
growing up in an increasingly diverse world. Given the rate of projected growth for

children of color in the United States, their increasing purchasing power and
research that shows media do affect childrens cultural attitudes, it is clear that
programming with multicultural casts makes both good business and social sense.
Limitations and Implications for Future Research
There were several limitations for this study. First, as this study was a
description of the content of childrens programs and not a study of actual children,
one cannot make any claims that the social reality children construct reflects the
description reported here. Second, this study used a small sample and therefore,
results cannot be generalized to all childrens programs. This sample also would not
allow me to use any statistical test for this study. Third, in this study, there was only
one coder. There may have been some bias going on, especially since it stated that if
there were several and they disagreed, they would watch the shows again until they
could come up with an agreement. Fourth, this study would not apply to adult
programs. The strength of this study was that it used a random sample of a week
worth of childrens programs from each channel. Another strength was that it
compared two popular networks (PBS and Toon Disney) for childrens
programming. Finally, this study could be replicated by the coding.
Based on previous research the content of childrens programming messages
about gender and race and their stereotypes need further studies. Studies also need

to be undertaken to have childrens perspectives about gender and race
representations and their own stereotypes to assess the impact these portrayals of
social reality have on children. In addition, there are few studies about racial
portrayals in childrens programming. Further studies need to assess racial
stereotypes in childrens programming. It would be beneficial to use a larger sample
for this study in different seasons. Because there are two Disney channels
(Playhouse Disney and Toon Disney), further research needs to assess Playhouse
Disney to see what the differences and similarities are between these two Disney
It is obvious that Disney has influence in American life. School should study
popular culture as a serious object of social knowledge and critical analysis
(Steinberg & Kincheloe, 1997). Parents, educators, and community groups must
challenge and re-write popular cultures messages about family values, history, and
national identity. In order to be fully grasped, Disneys influence must be analyzed
within a larger historical, social, political, and economic context. Parents, educators,
and cultural analysts must develop new forms of literacy for understanding
electronically produced visual media and be attentive to the diverse ways different
groups of kids read these media. Disneys public responsibilities extend beyond
those of its role as entertainer to include its role as educator of the young;

accordingly, Disney must be challenged and held accountable not only in economic,
but also in political and ethical terms.

Segment # Show Name:
Day# Time:
Major Character:
Gender Differences Category
Unit of Analysis= All Characters

All Male
All Female
Mostly Male
Mostly Female
Balance between Male & Female
Gender cannot be distinguished
Gender Characteristic Category Gender
Unit of Analysis = Major character Male Female Cannot be distinguished

Male/ Female Differences:
Strongly Masculine
Strongly Feminine
Cannot be distinguished

Not Present

Untech nical

Gender Characteristic Category Gender
Unit of Analysis = Major character Male Female Cannot be distinguished
Not Present

Male is bigger than female
Female is bigger than male
Male and female are the same size
Not applicable
Gender Interaction Category Gender
Unit of Analysis = Major Character Male Female Cannot be distinguished

Physical aggression
Victim of physical aggression
Not present

The amount of physical aggression:
One type of aggression
More than one type of aggression

Verbal aggression
Victim of verbal aggression
Not present

The amount of verbal aggression:
One type of aggression
More than one type of aggression

Not present


Gender Interaction Category Gender
Unit of Analysis = Major Character Male Female Cannot be distinguished

S/ictim being rescue
Not present

Not present

Not present

Not present

Not present

Not present

Not present

Not present

Gender Setting Category Gender
Unit of Analysis = Major Character Male Female Cannot be distinguished

Environment setting:
Cannot be distinguished

Clearly urban
Clearly suburban
Clearly rural
Cannot be distinguished

Clearly inside
Clearly outside
Cannot be distinguished

Cannot be distinguished

Clearly on the earth
Clearly on the other alien planet
Cannot be distinguished

Race Characteristic Category
Unit of Analysis = All Characters

All White
All Non-White (ANAH)
Mostly White
Mostly Non-White (ANAH)
Balance between White and Non-White
Cannot be distinguished
Race Interaction Category Race Category
Unit of Analysis = Major Character White Non-White Cannot be distinguished

Physical aggression
Victim of physical aggression
Not present

The amount of physical aggression:
One type of aggression
More than one type of aggression

Verbal aggression
Victim of verbal aggression
Not present

The amount of verbal aggression:
One type of aggression
More than one type of aggression

Not present

Not present

1 6:30-6 45Day1
2 7:30-7:45Day1
3 8:30-8:45Day1
4 8:45-9:00Day1
5 9:D0-9:15Day1
6 9:15-9:30Day1
7 9:45-10:00Day1
8 11:15-11:30 Day 1
9 11:30-11:45Day1
10 17:00-17:15Oay1
11 6:30-6:45Day2
12 6:45-7:OODay2
13 7:15-7:30Day2
14 9:30-9:45Day2
15 11:15-11:30Oay2
16 6:45-7:00Day3
17 8:l5-8:30Day3
18 9:15-9:30Day3
19 9:45-10:00Day3
20 11:30-11:45Day3
21 17:15-17:30Day3
22 6:45-7:00Day4
23 8:30-8:45Day4
24 17:00-17:15Day4
25 17:15-17:30Day4
26 8:15-8:30Day5
27 9:30-9:45Day5
28 11:15-11:30Day5
29 16:30-l6:45Day5
30 16:45-17:00Day5
Toon Disney
1 8:30-8:45Day1
2 9:00-9:15Day1
3 10:30-10:45Day1
4 11:15-11:30Day1
5 15:15-15:30Day1
6 21:00-21:15Day1
7 23:30-23:45Day1
8 24:30-24:45Day1
9 11:15-11:30Day2
10 15:45-16:OODay2
11 19:45-20:00Day2
12 5:15-5:30Day2
13 5:45-6:00Day2
14 7:15-7:30Day3
15 7:30-7:45Day3
16 14:00-14:15Day3
17 18:45-19:00Day3
18 20:45-21:00Day3
19 12:30-12:45Day4
20 13:15-13:30Day4
21 14:15-14:30Day4
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