The role of girls has been changing over the years in various fields round the world like advertising, academics, politics, etc. Today 30% of employees within the software industry are women. They’re also distinguishing themselves as professionals in several walks of life. But has the representation of girls advertising changed over a period of your time in advertisements? Or does it inform a number of the normal notions about women and their role in society? That’s the question we wish to affect during this paper.

Portrayal of woman in advertising has been a neighborhood of interest for both academicians (Das, 2000, Siu and Au, 1997) and practitioners. There has been a socio-cultural change in society over the decades which are evident from the increasing number of girls pursuing careers, changing family role structure, and unfavorable female attitudes toward traditional sex-role stereotypes.

Portrayal of woman in advertising has been a neighborhood of interest for both academicians (Das, 2000, Siu and Au, 1997) and practitioners. There has been a socio-cultural change in society over the decades which are evident from the increasing number of girls pursuing careers, changing family role structure, and unfavorable female attitudes toward traditional sex-role stereotypes.

The earliest study of women’s role portrayals was done by Courtney and Lockeretz (1971). They studied 112 ads in magazines and concluded that the ads reflected stereotypical roles like “women’s place is within the home, women don’t make important decisions or do important things, and ladies are dependent and wish men’s protection, men regard women as sex objects and aren’t curious about women as people”.

Like Courtney and Lockeretz  (1971), many other studies still believe that sex-role stereotyping occurs in television commercials and the same is been a trend for years. (Siu and Au, 1997).There is a robust similarity in sex role advertising round the world but there are a couple of studies which have focused on the effect of culture on advertising (Siu and Au, 1997, Milner and Collins, 2000)

Role portrayals in advertising are different in Asia, as compared to the rest of the world (Cutleret al., 1995). Hofstede (1980) also identifies that the cultural values of Asian nations are significantly different from those of countries like the United States, Canada, and Britain. Therefore we can say that the role of woman also will vary in Asia in comparison to the United States or United Kingdom.

There are very limited studies on woman role portrayal in India. The studies are Matthew (1990), Munshi (2000) and Das (2000). All these studies have focused their study on the print advertising. Matthew (1990) studied the segmentation of men and therefore the advertisements preferred by various segments. Munshi (2000) examined the role of housewives in advertisement. These two studies are limited in their scope. However, Das (2000) conducted a study on the role of both men and woman in Indian magazines over three years 1987, 1990 and 1994 and also compared these to the ads from other countries.

A review of in depth literature has helped to spot that there has been no study within the Indian context on the role of woman in Television advertising. This study aims to satisfy this gap by analyzing the role of woman in Indian Television over three decades from 1980.



Literature review

Role Portrayals in Advertisement

 The most frequently researched topics concerning the portrayal of girls in advertising are the role portrayals concerning people and products. the difficulty discussed is whether or not advertising accurately reflects current women’s roles or stresses stereotypic roles for ladies through explicit portrayals especially role situations or through innuendo (Kerin et al., 1979 )

Wagner and Banos (1973) in their study concluded that the share of girls in working roles had increased to 21%, Dominick and Rauch (1971) examined nearly 1,000 clock time television commercials and located that ladies were mostly portrayed within the role of housewife/mother and therefore the occupational roles were substantially less as compared to men.Silverstein and Silverstein (1974) in their study on television commercials concluded that

  • Men are usually announcers, thanks to the attributed “voice of authority and trust.”
  • Women were shown within the home with greater frequency than men.
  • Men were more likely to offer advice to women.
  • A woman’s occupation was rarely evident.
  • Women were eight times more likely to be as portray subservient roles in their interactions with men.

McArthur and Resko (1975) also observed that the share of males utilized in television advertisements was higher even for situations where they might not be the first users of a product or service. The authors of the sex portrayal articles of the 1970s concluded that ladies aren’t portrayed as independent, citizenry , but are primarily sex-typed (Courtney and Whipple 1974)

In the 1980s, Courtney and Whipple (1983) found that ladies were being portrayed within the home settings and men appeared in business settings, although the difference was but those found within the studies of the 1970s commercials. Sullivan and Connor (1988) studied the role portrayals in magazine advertising from 1953- 1983. They reviewed 364 advertisements over 15 product categories. The results of their study were almost like the study of Courtney and Whipple. They also concluded that the difference in role portrayals of men and woman had reduced from 1970s. They further said that 52% women were portrayed as employed, 77% in non working roles and only 6.67% were depicted in family environment.

Cultural Differences in Role Portrayals in Advertisement

The study of Siu and Au (1997) may be a cross culture study between China and Singapore. There study found that both in China and Singapore male central characters appeared in products employed by either sex, whereas more female central characters appeared in products employed by females only.

They also observed that male voices were utilized in voice-overs as compared to female voices. Women were portrayed more often to be younger than men and men were more likely to be seen in independent roles, whereas women were portrayed in roles relative to others.

Siu and Au (1997) also identified the difference between the 2 cultures and concluded that in Singapore commercials, women were more portrayed reception and men were portrayed in outdoor settings. In Singapore advertisements women appeared more frequently as spokes persons but this wasn’t true with the Chinese advertisements. Within the Chinese commercials women were depicted more frequently as product users and men were depicted as product authority.

Das (2000) in their study on the role of men and ladies in Indian advertisement concluded that the portrayal of girls in Indian magazine differs from those found in other nations. Two major differences in female role portrayals were;

  • The common stereo typical portrayals seem less prevalent in Indian; women were portrayed in neutral ways and fewer likely as sex objects in Indian advertisement. They were also portrayed as less dependent as compared to advertisements in Britain. The results of Indian advertisements were in sync with the japanese and Korean advertisements.


  • In India, the trend of portrayal of woman has been nontraditional and this will be attributed to the changes within the Indian society.

The literature review above, highlights that the role of girls has been changing over the decades round the world be it the print advertisements and tv advertisements. Further, it’s also noted that the portrayal of woman in India is different from the opposite countries. No study in India has yet studied the portrayal of woman in advertising over the decades. Therefore, the present study aims to

  • Examine female role portrayals in Indian Television advertisement


  • Examine the lady in television advertising and the way there portrayals have changed over the years by comparing advertisements in three different time periods—1980-1990, 1990


  • 2000, and 2000-2010.


  • Examine whether these gender-role portrayals varies across product categories





3.1. Objectives of the study

With the globalization & liberalization Indian market has become very active. Companies are using various innovative promotional strategies. Through my project i would like to review the importance of modeling & its glamour in advertising world. 

3.2. Hypotheses of the study 

Belkaoui & Belkaoui, (1976) and Sullivan & O’Connor (1988) in their study conducted in uk conclude that ladies in advertisements are portrayed as; being dependent, need the protection of men, home makers, sex objects, etc. Similar results are found in other studies round the world like Japan (Ford et. al., 1998), Korea (Cutler et. al., 1995), Hong Kong (Sengupta, 1992).

Considering, the prevalence of stereo type portrayal of woman in other nations, and also considering the very fact that advertisers in Asia haven’t been as sensitized to gender-role stereo typing as those in western nations (Cutler et. al., 1995). Hence, it’s hypothesized that

H1:  Altogether three decades, women are going to be portrayed more often in traditional, stereo typical ways in Indian television advertisement ( traditional feminine roles) than in neutral or non traditional ways.

H2: Altogether the three decades, the character of portrayals of girls in television advertisement won’t vary counting on the sort of product being advertised.

H3:  Female role portrayals sub sided stereo typical over the decades. this is able to be reflected within the quite advertisements and therefore the product categories of advertisements during which women are used. Woman in television advertising within the 1980s would be more stereo typical than woman in 2010.

3.3. Population of the Study

   I am taking the sample size of 100 for this research.

3.4. Sample Consideration

 Television advertisements for the last decade 1980-1990, 1990-2000 and 2000-2010 are studied. 25 advertisements were used for the amount 1980- 1990, 35 advertisements were used for the amount 1990-2000 and 45 advertisements were used for the amount 2000-2010. the rationale for the unequal number of advertisements in each decade is due to lack of availability of advertisements within the earlier decades. In India, the primary television commercial was seen only in 1978 and therefore the colour television was introduced only in 1982. Hence there have been only a few advertisements within the 1980-1990. In 1991, India got it s first satellite channel, Zee TV and therefore the number of advertisements increased within the decade of 1990-2000., With the arrival of technology the advertisement industry also developed and therefore the number of television commercials increased manifold and hence the utmost number of advertisements were for the last decade 2000-2010.

Only those Television commercials were utilized in which the feminine characters within the commercials had an on-camera appearance of a minimum of three seconds and/or a minimum of one line of dialogue.

3.5. Research Methodology

 The methodology used for the study was content analysis. it’s the foremost extensively used technique to research gender roles in advertisements. (Das, 2000, Siu and Au, 1998) Courtney and Whipple (1983) state that, content analysis has been the first means of assessing gender stereotyping in advertisements.

3.6. Significance of the Study

 The results indicate that the role of woman in television advertising has changed over the decades. Although, woman in India, are portrayed as traditional and stereo typical over the decades, there’s a difference in product categories advertised by them. Advertisers within the decade 2000 are willing to portray woman in male dominated advertisements as compared to advertisers of 1990s. The findings of the study are in sync with those found by Munshi (2000). He states that the portrayal of girls has changed, but only slightly.

This study has attempted to hide as many advertisements as possible to review the changing portrayal of woman in television advertising in India. However, it’s not covered all the advertisements and hence future researchers could cover more number of advertisements. Further, the changing portrayal of men could even be studied and a comparative analysis would add more insight to the study. A comparative analysis might be through with the advertisements of other nations as this is able to help the multinational organizations.




  • Belkaoui, Ahmed., and Belkaoui, M. Janice. (1976). A Comparative Analysis of the Roles Portrayed by Women in Print Advertisements: 1958, 1970, 1972. Journal of Marketing Research, 13,168-72.


  • Courtney, E. Alice., and Lockeretz, W. Sarah. (1971). A Woman’s Place: An Analysis of the Roles Portrayed by Women in Magazine Advertisements. Journal of Marketing Research, 8 (1) 92-95.


  • Courtney, E.Alice., and Whipple, T.W. (1974).Women in TV commercials. Journal of Communication, 24 (2) 110-18.


  • Das, Mallika. (2000). Men and Women in Indian Magazine Advertisements: A Preliminary Report. Sex Roles, 43 (9/10), 699- 717.


  • Dominick, J.R., and G.E.Rauch. (1971). The Image of Women’s Network TV Commercials.









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