Close this search box.

Gender Stereotypes in Media

A gender stereotype is a preconceived notion about the attributes or characteristics that women and men should possess or the roles that women and men should or should not perform. For example, “women are nurturing” and “women are weak” are positive and harmful gender stereotypes.

The media possesses the significant potential to reflect, reproduce, and reinforce social norms, patterns, and stereotypes, serving as a source of entertainment, education, and information. The media in Pakistan is subject to influence from cultural and political factions. However, there is a lack of established protocols and guidelines for promoting gender sensitivity and women’s empowerment.

Stereotypes can lead to bias and discrimination that gets worse and, ultimately, to violence based on bias. There exist gender differences and stereotypes in all parts of the media, such as the underrepresentation of women in media, gender stereotyping and sexism in media, and stereotyping in advertising.

  • Underrepresentation of Women in Media

    Women constitute half of the nation’s population. Like other professions, women in media agencies encounter significant obstacles. Women are excluded from leadership positions in Pakistani media organizations. The fact that most media companies are led by males who do not recognize women’s rights significantly contributes to excluding women from prominent media positions.
    Despite the difficulty in obtaining adequate data on the ratio of men to women working in Pakistan’s media, it is fair to state that there are fewer women than men in this field. Women are excluded from participation at all levels of media organizations, particularly in positions of authority.

  • Gender Stereotyping and Sexism in Media

    Sexism is “attitudes of behavior based on traditional stereotypes of sexual roles” or “discrimination or devaluation based on a person’s sex.” This can refer to the beliefs or attitudes such as that one sex is superior to the other, that men and women are very different, and that this should be strongly reflected in society and the law, and simply hatred of women or men.
    In the context of Pakistan’s $2 billion media industry, it is widely acknowledged that institutional sexism is a prevalent issue. The 2020 RECMA media agency ranking report reveals a shared characteristic among the profiled media agencies: the absence of a female executive occupying the highest leadership position.

  • Stereotyping in Advertising

    The portrayal of gender in television commercials illustrates the prevailing socio-cultural inclinations in contemporary society. It is essential to note that various forms of media, such as commercials, advertisements, and posters, tend to depict women solely as objects and perpetuate harmful stereotypes based on their physical appearance, including skin color and body shape, leading to body shaming. The majority of advertisements are crafted in a manner that portrays the contours and anatomical features of the female physique.
    Similarly, it is noteworthy that in Pakistan, television advertisements feature women engaged in conventional activities such as tending to children, managing household chores, and occupying subordinate or supportive positions. This distribution of stereotypical portrayals of women in television advertisements promoting various products is worth considering. According to the findings, a significant proportion of advertisements, precisely 73%, depict women engaging in stereotypical activities that are considered conventional, such as cooking, doing laundry, serving food to other family members, and occupying subordinate positions.