According to a 2001 study, 86% of protagonists were white males, non-white males were portrayed in stereotypical ways: "seven out of ten Asian characters as fighters, and eight out of ten African-Americans as sports competitors" (Ethnic pp). Roughly nine out of ten African-American females were victims of violence, twice the rate of white females (Ethnic pp). Moreover, 79% of African-American males were shown as verbally and physically aggressive, compared to 57% of white males (Ethnic pp).
According to a 1998 study, children associate white characters with various attributes, such as having lots of money, being well educated, being a leaders, doing well in school, and being intelligent, while they associate minority characters with breaking the law, having a difficult time financially, being lazy, and acting goofy (Ethnic pp). Some researchers argue that if a group is over-represented, they see many opportunities and choices, while if they are under-represented, the reverse is true (Ethnic pp). Therefore, the media can grant legitimacy by including people and showing them respect, thus fair and equal representation is an essential part of a healthy and tolerant multicultural society (Ethnic pp). A 2002 study concluded that "minorities are even more underrepresented in key behind-the-scenes creative and decision-making positions than they are on the television screen, leading many analysts to wonder if the dearth of minority executives, producers, directors and screenwriters is fuelling the tendency to ignore or misrepresent ethnic groups (Ethnic pp). Moreover, 83% of black writers surveyed wrote for shows starring primarily black people, even though white writers often write for black shows (Ethnic pp).
Of more than 1,300 prime time television advertisements conducted to assess the frequency and nature of Asian-American representation, researchers found that Asian male and female models are "over-represented" in terms of proportion of the population, 3.6%, appearing in 8.4% of the commercials (Stern pp). Yet, Asian models are more likely than members of other minority groups to appear in background roles, and Asian women are rarely depicted in major roles (Stern pp). The findings also indicate that portrayals of Asian-Americans put so much emphasis on the work ethic that other aspects of life seldom appear (Stern pp). For example, Asian models are over-represented in business settings and relationships and under-represented in home settings and family or social relationships (Stern pp). The findings suggest opportunities for advertisers who depict Asian-Americans in non-stereotypical ways (Stern pp). However, Asian-Americans are considered a "model minority" whose premium demographic profile includes "affluence, high education, and managerial/professional occupations...and rapid growth in number make them an attractive market" (Stern pp).
Among young household heads, black women are employed at lower rates than white women, following a pattern found among young men (Browne pp).
Research finds that young female household heads that reside in the central city experience a drop in employment with increases in the "suburbanization" of low-skill jobs (Browne pp). Moreover, young black women are losing employment from the relative expansion of retail trade industries, while young white women are not (Browne pp). The literature suggests that the underlying mechanisms that account for this involve group differences in skills and/or discrimination by employers, coworkers, or customers (Browne pp).
Yet another study reveals that while African-American men are stereotyped as resentful, angry and even violent, African-American women are viewed as more stable, cooperative, and hard working (Gilbert pp). In fact, African-American women have a higher labor force participation than European-American or Latina women (Gilbert pp). From 1979 to 1989, the proportion of African-American women in the labor force increased from 53% to 60%, higher than that for European-American women (Gilbert pp). They were seen as more serious about work because potential employers assign less sex role stereotypes than they would to European-American women, thus "African-American women are not seen as being in the business world to find a husband, nor viewed as requiring 'delicate' treatment because of their femininity" (Gilbert pp). African-American women have been portrayed as strong, independent, striving, and assertive, more ambitious and motivated, and more highly educated than African-American men (Gilbert pp). Moreover, African-American women have made greater occupational strides compared to European-American women (Gilbert pp).
African-American women are generally portrayed in the media as strong, no-nonsense type females, such as the mother on The Cosby Show, thus accounting for the above statistics. Moreover, Asia Americans are portrayed as the "model minority, and thus also appear to have few problems concerning job employment. While Hispanic females are not only under-represented in the media, but also within the general workforce. Sally Steenland, deputy director of the National Commission on Working Women, says, "Even TV's concept of minority women is a narrow one. Most television minorities are black: Latinos, Asians and Native Americans are virtually invisible" (Steenland pp). What Steenland and many others feel is needed is a more active role of minority women behind the camera as producers, writers, directors, and network executives to influence the image of minority characters in front of the camera (Steenland pp).
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