Evening the Score in Prime Time: The Relationship between Behind-the-Scenes Women and On-Screen Portrayals in the 2002-2003 Season

By Lauzen, Martha M.; Dozier, David M. | Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, September 2004 | Go to article overview

Evening the Score in Prime Time: The Relationship between Behind-the-Scenes Women and On-Screen Portrayals in the 2002-2003 Season


Lauzen, Martha M., Dozier, David M., Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media


According to director Martha Coolidge, "gender, being a woman, affects everything" (Gregory, 2002, p. 132). Her perspective, as well as those of others, have been colorfully archived in a spate of recent trade books focusing on women's experiences in Hollywood (Abramowitz, 2000; Gregory, 2002; Seger, 1996; Steenland, 1990). Filled with first-person accounts, these books recount the desire and determination of women working behind the scenes to tell stories about members of their own gender on the screen. A small body of academic research supports these anecdotal stories by documenting the relationship between the employment of behind-the-scenes women and greater numbers of female characters in prime-time television (Glascock, 2001; Lauzen & Dozier, 1999).

Not all women in creative production roles hold a singular sensibility regarding the creation of televisual females. However, one might expect women's conception of what constitutes an interesting or appealing portrayal of females to differ from conceptions of males working behind the scenes. (1) Limited research suggests that women working behind the scenes may act to even the score for female characters in prime-time television, with fewer stereotypically male traits and more female characteristics portrayed across genders when women work behind the scenes (Lauzen & Dozier, 2002). Using a sample of situation comedies and dramas airing on the six broadcast networks during the 2002-2003 season, this study extends that research to examine how the employment of behind-the-scenes women may be related to occupational power, leadership status, goal-directed behaviors, and effectiveness in achieving those goals among male and female characters.

By understanding the behind-the-scenes/on-screen relationship, greater understanding of gendered media messages is gained. Ample research using passive and active audience models documents the overall role these messages play in reinforcing existing gender expectations and stereotypes (Gerbner, Gross, Morgan, & Signorielli, 1986; Gunter, 1986; Heide, 1995). More specifically, media portrayals that underrepresent and/or misrepresent females in positions of power and leadership may have real-life consequences for girls and women. Studies of media use and sex-role socialization reveal that televisual portrayals influence children's notions of appropriate occupational expectations and choices (Durkin, 1985; Morgan, 1982). Further, organizational research has found that when even small, seemingly insignificant biases are repeated over time and on individuals, they can have significant consequences (Eagly & Karau, 2002). According to Eagly and Karau (2002, p. 589), "slight prejudice that is consistently acted on greatly reduces women's chances of rising to high-level positions in organizations." Media portrayals of women may contribute to and reinforce these biases against women, making it more difficult for women to assume positions of power and leadership and be accepted (Eagly & Karau, 2002).

Behind-the-Scenes Individuals and On-Screen Portrayals

Explanations for television content range from the unique nature of the television business (DiMaggio, 1977; W. T. Bielby & D. D. Bielby, 1992) to the hegemony of decision makers (Gitlin, 1987). DiMaggio (1977), and more recently W. T. Bielby and D. D. Bielby (1992), distinguished the television and other "culture" industries from more traditional organizational structures. These researchers noted that established writer-producers broker the relationship between commercial interests (e.g., the networks, advertisers) and creative interests. These brokers negotiate the ongoing demands of making a program appealing to demographically attractive viewers and more artistic concerns. While M. G. Cantor and J. M. Cantor (1992) suggest that these individuals are "caught in the middle" (p. 72) of competing and sometimes contradictory interests, they and others acknowledge that brokers must often favor commercial over creative interests (W. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Evening the Score in Prime Time: The Relationship between Behind-the-Scenes Women and On-Screen Portrayals in the 2002-2003 Season
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.