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A Comparison of Gender Discourse in the Media


In this 21st century, the media has become a major part of people’s daily lives. It has a big influence on how individuals perceive the world (Lauzen & Dozier, 2005). There are various types of media including radio, television, newspapers, adverts placed at random places and the internet. When carrying out everyday activities, people are confronted by different images of men and women. These images whether seen in person or the media tend to influence individuals consciously or subconsciously. The fact that media is a big part of people’s daily lives, and partly influences their perceptions of the world, it would be interesting to see how the representations portray gender through the ways they speak and communicate via these media. There has been previous research on this topic and this project report will be an addition to this vast array of research by analyzing the different gender representations in the media through discourse analysis. The different ways by which men and women communicate as represented by the media affect the conventional perception of what a man and a woman is (Gee, 2005). This study however takes a slightly different approach since apart from differentiating the female and male dialogues it will also focus on particular similarities in the way men and women communicate in the media. This will be done by analyzing a number of texts from the GQ Australia and Woman’s Day websites.

Research Background on the Topic

There is a vast amount of previous research that analyzes gender discourse in the median and how differently men and the different way by which men and women communicate. The previous research covers different forms of media like movies, prime-time television, music, cartoons and other forms of animations, computer games and most recently the media. There have been a wide range of different methods used for these previous studies and the most common ones were quantitative content analysis (Collins, 2011) and Discourse analysis (Rudy et al., 2010).

Goddard and Patterson (2000), emphasize the importance of noting the relationship between the speaker and the listener when analyzing differences in written discourse. They suggest a number of domains that should be the point of focus when identifying the receiver (listener) of a written text and these include, the number of receivers, their age, cultural background, linguistic identity, physiological condition, positive or negative bias, power and most importantly gender. The role that gender plays in the subject of language use and relevance have been popular topics in the pragmatics, discourse analysis and sociolinguistics research investigations. A major significance has been accredited to stereotypes that were gender related that formed gradually and were reinforced by the society and mass media representations (Fairclough, 1995). According to these researchers, the media highlights the socially acceptable notions of masculinity and feminism by for instance depicting women as mothers and wives that are always talking about family and households while the men as breadwinners and qualified professionals that always talk about jobs and the workplace.

Information addressed to males in the media are usually analytical, factual and straight to the point while that addressed to the females are usually sensitive and idyllic novelization of events (Caldas-Coulthard, 1992). Connel (2001) on the other hand, in an attempt to illustrate the contemporary concepts of femininity and masculinity outlines the dimensions of gender stereotyping in mass media. From they communicate, the males are depicted as risky and fearless individuals that find pleasure in adrenalin driven activities like hard sports and drunk driving. The women on the other hand are attributed to the complete opposite features like domesticity, deviancy, and vulnerability, powerless and emotional just to name a few. When it comes to factors that characterize female and male discourse, the idea of ‘male bonding’ and the socially constructed stereotype of ‘women are ladies’ are generated and these bring about the alienation of women in the society and eventually incites the hypercorrectness of female discourse (Lakoff, 2015).

These extensive studies in gender discourse have focused mainly on the differentiation of the choices of linguistic choices by the males and females. These have recently changed and there are now similarities in male and female discourse bringing about the existence of discourse democratization which comes as a result of the contemporary changes in the society ideals by bringing together the conventional gender-related roles and reshaping the theories of masculinity and femininity. This research therefore focuses on the two, both the conventional differences in how males and females communicate in the media and the modern similarities of female and male choice of language and communication methods as seen in the media. The texts in the GQ Australia and Woman’s Day websites would be best suited to analyze gender discourse in the media by focusing in the male and female topics and language choices. These are expected to clearly outline the differences in communication methods based on gender and come up with conclusive results.


The aim of this research was to investigate how men and women communicate on the media and their resulting representations on the same media. This was done by compiling a number of texts on different topics from the GQ Australia and Woman’s Day websites. The texts taken from the GQ Australia website include a text about adrenaline chasing Australian stars that have diced with death explaining the appeal (Christensen, 2017) and Dan Rookwood detailing his journey through being a father (Rookwood, 2017). Those taken from the Woman’s Day website include Megan Dale sharing a picture of her pregnancy (Woman’s Day, 2017) and Rebecca Judd sharing a guide to motherhood (Skelly, 2017).

These texts were selected because to some extent they differentiate the different ways with which men and women communicate; when Christensen’s text about adrenaline driven stars is compared to that of Megan Dale sharing a picture of her baby bump. The other two texts were selected to outline the similarities in gender discourse as both texts from male and female magazine websites talk about parenthood, something that traditionally would have been left for the females/mothers. For research purposes, the different texts were slightly changed in order to remove any gender connotations and randomly placed in questionnaires in order to eliminate possible bias and obtain objective results. These questionnaires were used to identify the areas of interest shared by both women and men which is assumed to have the possibly highest degree of gender language similarities and differences.

The participants were ten randomly selected men and women with good knowledge of written and spoken English. The questions had two multiple choices from which the participants were to select from. The questions were as follows: Who is this text written for? And Who could be interested in the topic of the extract? The answers to be selected from were, both, men, women, or difficult to tell. This analysis took into account the ideas of Goddard and Patterson for linguistic analysis. The theories employed include the notion of identification of male discourse in the media and the issue of discourse ‘fabrication’. There is also the theory of gender variations in authoritative sentence constructions and finally the idea of hypercorrectness of female speech in comparison to male (Lakeoff, 2015).

The results obtained from this research analysis were then considered in light of gender differences and similarities in communication over the media and finally single out linguistic and relevant elements of the comparison of gender discourse in the media. From this analysis, the different ways through which different genders are stereotyped are also outlined. By analyzing the results, the social perceptions of the where the males and females are placed in the society could be determined. The texts that aimed at showing similarities could also be used to demonstrate gender discourse democratization that has come about with civilization and globalization (Eckert & McConnel-Ginet, 2015).


From the analysis, it was discovered that for the first texts from the GQ magazine about adrenaline driven stars and that in the Woman’s Day magazine of Megan Dale showing her baby bump, the participants could easily identify who the targeted audience were. These results could be interpreted as the initial step on the way to proving that males and females communicate differently in the media. The following table shows the results of the questions from the series of texts from the two websites. The percentages show the amount of participants that selected those particular choices.


Adrenaline Driven

Baby bump

Let’s work out, shall we?

Surfing/Cliff diving

Little bun

In this context, the text ’Let’s work out, Shall we?’ had the most controversy since most participants settled for both males and females while the text was actually intended for the females. This section signifies a distinctive interest to the research since the results are rather impressive with regard to the different areas of interest for both the males and females. Which shows that the choice of words can be used to identify whether the text is written for or by a female or male.

The other series of texts were taken from the two magazine websites were the simple secret to being a father and a husband from the GQ Australia website and Rebecca Judd’s guide to motherhood. Here it noting the writers and targeted audience was more difficult for the participants. This exhibits the dynamic process of social change and reforming of masculinity where a topic that was highly considered to be more female oriented is now considered to be for both genders through the context and choice of words by the authors of the texts. The table shows the results of the other two series of texts.


What am I going to do with this baby?

Lovey-dovey and couldn’t keep our hands off each other.

Maintaining balance, having a strong partnership.

Foolproof method.

We feel pretty broke and broken

Explaining where babies come from is no easy feat.

This data indicates that the overall perception of the area of interest dedicated to family as a unisex one. The selected texts were taken from one excerpt written for men and another for women but most participants could not tell which is which. The text ‘Lovey-dovey and couldn’t keep our hands off each other’, had no participant selecting male as the writer or targeted audience while it was actually from the guide to being a great father and husband excerpt. This shows that there is a substantial change in the perception of family and the ways males and females talk on the media. When it comes to family matters, there are no longer differences in communication styles between males and females as the topic is relevant to both genders (Carter, C. & Steiner, L., 2004). This study can be considered to be a success since it clearly gave a comparison of gender discourse in the media. Only one form of media was used because people tend to communicate or give information in the same way through all forms of media. This is because of frequent interactions and globalization that have resulted in either subconsciously or consciously standardized ways of communicating over the different forms of media especially if the information is expected to reach a large number of people (Gauntlett, 2008).


From this analysis, it can be concluded that there are different ways with which males and females communicate in the media. These differences have an influence on how individuals perceive the roles of the different genders. The context of the information given and the way it has been articulated can help determine whether the information was written or intended for the male or female populations. There are certain gender specific discourse features that can enhance the image of what a woman or a man are and how they behave in relation to each other. From the first series of texts that were used to outline the differences. Women are perceived to be soft and sentimental, only taking roles that are specific to home management and family and would not dare take part in risky activities that their male counterparts would deem exciting.

However, with civilization and changes in social gender perceptions, there are some similarities in the way males and females communicate over the media. This is clearly shown in the second series of texts where participants were unable to determine which texts were written/said by who and the intended audiences. It can safely be concluded that these differences and similarities are as a result of the context of communication. Family matters and similar contexts would warrant discourse similarities while social activities might warrant differences in communication methods.


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Skelly, K. (2017). Rebecca Judd’s #NoFilter guide to motherhood. Retrieved from: http://www.nowtolove.com.au/parenting/pregnancy-birth/rebecca-judd-candid-guide-to- motherhood-36771

Woman’s Day (2017). Megan Gale just shared the adorable first picture of her growing baby bump. Retrieved from: http://www.nowtolove.com.au/parenting/pregnancy-birth/megan- gale-shares-the-first-picture-of-her-baby-bump-36915