Julia Wood, in her article titled “Gendered Media: The Influence of Media on Views of Gender,” presents three themes that explain how media represents gender: under-representation of women, stereotypes, and emphasis on gender roles and violence against women. These three themes nicely summarize the core issues that arise when we want to explore the impact of mass media on gender socialization.
Generally, mass media is dominated by the male gender, whether in terms of existing opportunities or incomes earned. Data from Statista, for the period 2014-2015, reveals that only 38.1% of all characters featured on “streamed shows” and 36.4% of those on “broadcast television shows” in the United States were women. On a more global scale, data from the Global Media Monitoring Project, for 2015, states that women comprised a paltry 24% of people “heard, read about or seen” in mass media news. This under-representation may result in less interest or focus on those issues that relate to the female gender.
Mass media advances the stereotyping of gender roles which can inhibit the growth and development of individuals from either gender. For instance, certain activities or professions may be portrayed as being more “masculine” than others, thus a domain of men, and vice versa. When a majority of advertisements on household cleaning detergents show female stay-at-home mothers doing the laundry, a young girl subconsciously learns that cleaning is a woman’s domain. The same can be said for any other activity. The continuous portrayal of women as damsels in distress by soap operas also encourages the idea of a weak female gender that constantly needs help from men.
Finally, there is domestic violence that is often carried out on the "weaker gender" (mostly female). The under-representation of women, together with their portrayal as the weaker gender, by the mass media puts forward the idea that authority lies with the male gender. A negative result of this can be the need to prove this authority through violence—which is unfortunately advanced by the mass media through aggressive movies, stories, music, and so forth.