Role of Women in Media Advertising: a brief literature review

By John Dudovskiy

Role of Women in Media AdvertisingThe role of women in media advertising has been discussed by many authors from various angles. According to Ross and Byerly (2008) traditionally media advertisements have positioned women as passive and submissive. At the same time, Ross and Byerly (2008) state that this prescribed role for women in media is being changed at the moment, however certain limitations still exist.

Cheng and Chang (2009) relate to the role of women in media advertising to sex appeal. Moreover, Cheng and Chang (2009) argue that this situation is not likely to change for a foreseeable future and authors attempt to justify this viewpoint by referring the basic human nature.

Accoring to Abel et al. (2010) the integration of female body images in advertisement in various forms has increased significantly during the last two decades. It has been noted that women in advertisements are represented thinner and well below their average weight.

Mogel (2010) addresses the issues of media stereotyping in relation to woman. Specifically, according to Mogel (2010) media stereotyping perceives the role of women as intimate objects with submissive characters. Biermann (2011) addresses the same issue and argues that the role of women in many parts of the world is stereotyped by the media as housewives with the main concerns for house cleaning.

According to Saad (2012) the significance of the nature of female representation in TV and radios are greater compared to the print media. Saad (2012) explains his stand in a way that while TV media and radio force their advertising on their viewers, in print media generally advertisement are less interruptive, in a way that people can skip them if they want to do so.

McAllister and West (2013), on the other hand, relate the reasons of images of women being used more frequently than images of men in media advertisements to emotional characteristics of women. Specifically, according to McAllister and West (2013) it is easier to communicate various emotional human states such as happiness, anger, curiosity, etc. through female images than images of men. However, McAllister and West (2013) do not justify their arguments by referring to any relevant empirical study.

Cortese (2007) refers to the concept of provocateur when discussing the image of attractive women typically featuring on printed advertisements. The author argues that “provocateur is not human; rather, she is a form or hollow shell representing a female figure” (Cortese, 2007, p.59).

In other words, Cortese (2007) considers the images of women featuring in advertisements to be distant from reality, and discusses the negative implications of this situation to self-confidence of representatives of ‘ordinary’ female population.



Abel, S., Bruin, M. & Nowak, A. (2010) “Women, Advertising and Representation: Beyond Familiar Paradigms” Hampton Press

Biermann, G. (2011) “Stereotypes Galore! Women’s Emancipation as Reflected in Advertising” GRIN Verlag

Cheng, H. & Chang, K.W. (2009) “Advertisingadn Chinese Society: Impacts and Issues” CBS Press

Cortese, A.J. (2007) “Provocateur: Images of Women and Minorities in Advertising” Rowman & Littlefield

McAllister, M.P. & West, E. (2013) “The Routledge Companion to Advertising and Promotional Culture” Routledge

Mogel, L. (2010) “Making it in Advertising: An Insider’s Guide to Career Opportunities”

Ross, K. & Byerly (2008) “Women and Media: International Perspectives” John Wiley & Sons

Saad, G. (2012) “The Evolutionary Bases of Consumption” Psychology Press

Category: Literature Review