Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Journalism (MA)

Degree Level





Jan Wicks

Committee Member

Ron Warren

Second Committee Member

Patsy Watkins


Social sciences, Communication and the arts, Character portrayals, Gender, Primetime television


This study examined gender representation and occupational portrayals on primetime television, in order to determine if gender-role stereotypes are still present throughout programming, and what progress, if any, has been made in comparison to previous studies. A content analysis was done on primetime programming airing during the fall of 2013 on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and the CW, and analyzed gender, major and minor character, genre, occupation, and marital status. The findings of this study reveal that women are still underrepresented on-screen, as well as in prestigious occupations, especially when compared to their real world representation. This study also examined the five broadcast networks individually and found gender representation and occupational portrayal differences between the networks, revealing which networks have made progress towards equal and accurate representation, and which have not. The results of this content analysis suggest that stereotypical representations of men and women are still frequent on primetime television. Furthermore, these findings were examined in relation to Social cognitive theory to determine the potential effect these portrayals could be having on viewers’ gender role beliefs. While some improvements have been made in comparison to previous studies, progress still needs to be made among all primetime programming to represent female characters in a wide variety of occupations and roles that are more consistent with reality.