Sex Roles [sers] pp722-sers-458869 January 15, 2003 16:52 Style ﬁle version June 3rd, 2002
Sex Roles, Vol. 48, Nos. 1/2, January 2003 (
An Analysis of the Portrayal of Gender Roles in Turkish
and Sebnem Burnaz
The aim of this study was to examine gender role portrayals in Turkish television advertising.
For this purpose, a content analysis of the advertisements that aired on the selected 6 tele-
vision channels was carried out. Three hundred fourteen independent advertisements were
coded according to general characteristics of the advertisements and demographic and at-
titudinal/behavioral characteristics of the primary ﬁgures. The data show signiﬁcant gender
differences in these 2 groups of variables. The ﬁndings are also compared with ﬁndings of other
research conducted in different cultural settings.
KEY WORDS: gender roles; advertising; content analysis; television.
Advertising is not only a communication tool
between companies and their customers, but also a
social actor and a cultural artifact. As a social ac-
tor, advertising stages a powerful social drama that
transforms symbols and ideas and bonds together im-
ages of individuals and products (Leiss, Kline, & Jally,
1990). As a cultural artifact, it reﬂects only certain at-
titudes, behaviors, and values and reinforces only cer-
tain lifestyles and philosophies that help to sell com-
modities (Pollay & Gallagher, 1990).
Advertising has been criticized by different
groups for many years. One of the criticisms has been
directly related to the impact of advertising on the
social norms that indicate how men and women are
supposed to act and relate to each other in different
social situations. Advertising is believed to reinforce
the notion that gender roles are “proper,” “best,” or
“natural” by reﬂecting certain narrowly deﬁned roles
(Hawkins & Coney, 1976).
The impact of advertising in transmitting the
stereotyped roles of women and men depends on the
type of media used. Television is the most compelling
Management Faculty, Istanbul Technical University, Istanbul,
To whom correspondence should be addressed at Istanbul Teknik
Universitesi, Isletme Fakultesi, Isletme Muh. Bolumu, Macka,
80680 Istanbul, Turkey; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
medium because of its audio–visual power, and it acts
as a socializing agent. Researchers have been analyz-
ing the content of television advertisements since the
1970s in order to assess the degree of stereotyping.
These studies delineate the current status of gender
roles in ads as well as cultural differences among the
In this study we aimed to identify gender role
portrayals in the Turkish advertising industry. We de-
termined the extent of gender role stereotypes in tele-
vision advertisements by using content analysis, which
is the common method used in previous studies con-
ducted on gender roles.
Gender Roles and Advertising in Turkey
In most cultures, the behavior of men and women
is clearly differentiated, and there is strong social pres-
sure to maintain these distinctions. As such, women
are to act “like women” and do the work of women
and men are to act “like men” (Condon, 1980). This
has also been true for men and women in Turkish so-
ciety for many years. However, since the beginning
of the 1980s, changes in Turkey’s macroenvironment
have exerted considerable inﬂuence on the traditional
roles of men and women in the society. Although the
traditional social pressure to maintain the distinctions
2003 Plenum Publishing Corporation