Sex Roles [sers] PP1203-sers-486780 May 14, 2004 14:26 Style ﬁle version June 3rd, 2002
Sex Roles, Vol. 50, Nos. 11/12, June 2004 (
Gender Representation in the NCAA News:Isthe
Glass Half Full or Half Empty?
George B. Cunningham,
Melanie L. Sartore,
Michelle L. Amsden,
and Anne Schellhase
The purpose of this study was to provide a reexamination of the NCAA (National Collegiate
Athletic Association) News and the extent to which the publication provides equitable cover-
age to women and women’s teams. To do so, 5,745 paragraphs and 1,086 photographs from 24
issues (12 issues in 1999, 12 issues in 2001) were coded for (a) gender, (b) size, (c) location, and
(d) content. Results were then compared to a standard (i.e., the proportion of female athletes
competing in NCAA intercollegiate athletics). Results indicate that coverage in the NCAA
News was more representative, with respect to the amount of text and number of photographs,
than it was in 1988 and 1991.
KEY WORDS: media coverage; gender differences.
The media (i.e., television, print, radio, Internet)
have a signiﬁcant inﬂuence on individuals and the cul-
ture in which they live. Indeed, Kane (1988) suggested
that “the mass media have become one of the most
powerful institutional forces for shaping values and
attitudes in modern culture” (pp. 88–89). Kane, Taub,
and Hayes (2000) echoed similar sentiments nearly
a decade later, as they argued that the media shape
understandings of society, interpreting what is “right”
and “important” (see also Greenberg & Hier, 2001).
Thus, the media frame, at least in part, our thoughts,
attitudes, and behaviors (Kane et al., 2000). In ad-
dition, the mass media, in concert with one’s peers
and family members, acts as a socialization agent, in
that it shapes the emotional and moral development
of youth (Moore, Raymond, Mittelstaedt, & Tanner,
2002). For example, Rintala and Birrell (1984) argued
that the media provide girls with possible role models.
In this way, if girls and women are not represented in
Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas.
Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.
To whom correspondence should be addressed at Laboratory for
Diversity in Sport, Department of Health and Kinesiology, Texas
A&M University, TAMU 4243, College Station, Texas 77843-4243;
an equitable fashion by the media, then girls are not
afforded the necessary exemplars to emulate.
The importance of the media is also seen in sport.
Since the passage of Title IX in 1972, there has been
a dramatic increase in the participation of girls and
women in sport (see Acosta & Carpenter, 2002). In
fact, spurred by the accomplishments of women and
women’s athletic teams, Mediaweek deemed 1996 to
be the “Year of the Woman” (Gremillion, 1996). How-
ever, despite these advances, there has been little im-
provement in the media coverage of women’s sport
since Title IX (Coakley, 1998; Lumpkin & Williams,
1991; Theberge & Cronk, 1986). The poor cover-
age serves to marginalize women and women’s sport
teams. As Kane (1988) noted, “How female athletes
are viewed in this culture is both reﬂected in and cre-
ated by mass media images. Thus, it becomes critical
to examine both the extent and the nature of media
coverage given to female athletes” (p. 89).
Indeed, research on the coverage of athletic
teams has demonstrated inequitable and biased rep-
resentation of women’s teams. Researchers have in-
dicated that the media portray sport as a mas-
culine venture (Cramer, 1994; Duncan, Messner,
Williams, & Jensen, 1994; Lumpkin & Williams,
1991; Tuggle, 1997). Further, women who participate
2004 Plenum Publishing Corporation