Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

The purpose of this research is to investigate the portrayal of powerful women in the media and to gain a perspective of different ways the media tend to elaborate and focus on gender issues to a greater extent than the general public may think. I intend to demonstrate that powerful women are often portrayed unfairly in the media and that this could affect the progress they make in their careers. I hypothesize that although women are making strides in the right direction, the often negative portrayal of powerful women in the media can be unwarranted and lead to the unfair perception of women in powerful positions. First, I address background information that includes the progress professional and influential women have made in corporate America. I then discuss how many of these advancements, although they are a start, are not as substantial as they should be in the twenty-first century. Next, I investigate the possibility that the media might hinder women’s abilities to move up into positions of power due the influence that the media have on our perceptions and behaviors. To demonstrate that the media do in fact focus on gender issues when portraying powerful women, I investigated how the media portrayed three specific women in power. I chose to examine media portrayals of Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Katie Couric, anchor of CBS Evening News, and Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. By concentrating not only on women in corporate America, but also on a woman in the world of journalism, and one in the political world, I was able to gain a perspective on whether unfair media portrayals of women in corporations are parallel in their portrayals of influential women in general.

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