Race and Gender Stereotypes in Magazines

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As we thumb through our magazines, we invariably notice pictures of people, whether in the articles or advertisements. Previous researchers have shown that some people are more likely than others to appear in those photos. All else equal, men and Whites are more likely to be in photos than are women and racial minorities.

Recently, Joanna Schug, from the College of William and Mary, and her colleagues extended these analyses to focus on how gender and race intersect. They drew from previous scholarship showing that African Americans are usually depicted as masculine and Asians shown as feminine.

They analyzed 5 issues from 6 journals, including: GQ, Vogue, Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Maxim, and Cosmopolitan. This amounted to the examination of over 8,500 photos.

Their findings were supportive of their predictions. Relative to Whites, Asian women were more likely to be shown in photos than were Asian men.

For African Americans, men were more likely to be in photos than were women, and the pattern was significantly different than that observed for Whites. The findings were consistent across magazine genres.

In discussing their results, the authors commented, “this study provides evidence that Asian men and Black women are rendered invisible in mass media, namely in popular magazines.”

Schug and colleagues’ findings show that racial stereotypes are frequently gendered in nature. Thus, gender and race intersect to influence people’s opportunities and experiences. In the current study, these biases have the potential to influence how people are depicted in society, as well as the messages we receive.