This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Powerful or Pretty: A Content Analysis of Gender Images in Children's Animated Films




Fischer, Sabrina

Type of Degree





The purpose of this study was the exploration of the portrayal of gender roles, images and stereotypes in children’s animated films. A content analysis of five animated children’s films was conducted. The sample consisted of the top money-making children’s animated movies from 2004 to 2008. Quantitative data were obtained to examine the distribution of male and female characters, to document character’s physical appearance, social roles and behavioral attributes, and to determine in what ways and to what extent, the sample of movies used stereotypical gender images of males and females in relation to the attributes of traditional masculinity and femininity. Results revealed that male characters are still overrepresented in children’s animated films. Male characters were often portrayed in a diverse array of roles and with various characteristics, including follower role, with a career, as leaders and heroes, as angry, happy, dominant, etc. Female characters were often portrayed as beautiful, in leadership roles, with careers, as angry, dominant, caring/loving, etc. Although females were shown in a variety of roles and behaviors, including traditional masculine ones, the trend of underrepresentation of female major and minor characters still persists.