Sex Roles, Vol. 40, Nos. 3/ 4, 1999
Portrayal of Women in Sexuality and Marriage and
Family Textbooks: A Content Analysis of
Photographs from the 1970s to the 1990s
and Peter Sherrard
ersity of Florida
ious research into gender role stereotypes in the mass media has focused
ision, rad io and magazines. The present study sought to determine
whether similar patterns can be found in photographic images of women in
el Human Sexuality and Marriage and Family textbooks. O
1000 pho tographs of women were content analyz ed. Results indicated that
in the 1970s, photographs were de
oted primarily to traditional images of
women. In the 1990s, while there were more photographs of women de
to feminist messages, photographs with traditional messages still dominated.
The ® ndings are discussed in terms of their implications for studies of gender
From the early 1970s, there has been consistent research and debate on the
possible effects of gender stereotypes in the media on human development.
Much research has been devoted to television content, and has found that
it repeatedly depicts women in highly traditional gender roles (e.g., Craig,
1992; Durkin, 1985; Reep & Dambrot, 1987). For example , Durkin (1985)
found that the ratio of males to females in television ® ction is around 7 : 3
which is strikingly at odds with real world distributions. Not only are women
underrepresented on television, but in advertisements, they are more ofte n
associate d with domesticity and inexpensive products associated with ap-
We are grateful to Sue Zalk and two anonymous reviewers for constructive commentaries
and the many textbook analysis experts whose work has greatly informed our knowledge.
The ® rst author would also like to thank Kevin Durkin for support throughout and for
instruction about the psychology of gender roles over the years.
To whom correspondence should be addressed at Department of Counselor Education,
University of Florida, 1215 Norman Hall, Gainesville , FL 32611± 7046.
1999 Plenum Publishing Corporation