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Thesis (M.A.)—University of Nebraska—Lincoln, 1981. Major: Journalism.


Copyright 1981, the author. Used by permission.


Women’s changing work roles and how they are reflected in advertising designed for women is the broad focus of this exploratory study.Three questions formed the basis for empirical research.

  1. How women’s changing work roles (jobs, careers, staying at home) are perceived by those making decisions about advertising.

  2. How women see themselves in regard to work roles (jobs, careers, staying at home).

  3. How women view the portrayal of women in advertising as it pertains to changing work roles (jobs, careers, staying at home).

Initial open-ended interviews were used to confirm the thesis topic and obtain information to use in designing questions for additional interviews.Information from these discussions was then used to structure schedules for the in-depth interviews with advertising executives and other women representatives of these three work roles—at home, job, and career.The chosen respondents were married and ranged from 22-37 years in age.

In-depth interviews were held with four advertising executives working in the medium-sized Midwest market.The purpose of these interviews was threefold:(1) to find out if the executives were aware of the changing work roles of women and the level of this awareness; (2) to find out their concerns and feelings about how these changes were reflected in advertising directed at women; and (3) to find out if the executives were doing anything to address the situation and what specific action they were taking.

The major findings of this exploratory study were as follows:

  1. Some women who are staying at home reported that they should not be classified as at home. They said they were really career women, interrupting their careers temporarily, or had been trained and would have a career at a later time.

  2. Women who were presently at home reported they were seeing most women in advertising as portrayed as working women.

  3. Women who presently worked outside of the home reported that they were seeing most women in advertising portrayed as staying at home.

  4. Thus, most women were reporting that advertising did not portray women as they saw themselves.

  5. Regardless of how women were portrayed in advertising, working or staying home, women in this study reported much dissatisfaction with what they saw.

Advisor: Wilma Crumley