Taylor's FSLM Journals
Gender role portrayals in online advertising: A Malaysian case study

@ SEARCH Journal of Media and Communication Research

Online ISSN: 2672-7080

Nafisa Shamim & *Nurzihan Hassim


This study attempts to bridge the knowledge gap about shifts in gender role portrayals in Malaysian advertisements, specifically online advertising. Previous studies have indicated that gender role stereotyping is found to be prevalent in the following gender categories of the primary character, in terms of age, voice over, setting, occupational role, and product. Following a review of gender stereotyping in ads by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in December 2018, ads cannot include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm or serious or widespread offence. To determine the extent of adherence to this directive and the nature of gender role portrayals in the local context of Malaysian advertisements, a content analysis was conducted on a sample of 76 advertisements collected from the online video-hosting platform YouTube between January and December 2018 (published prior to the ASA reform). Results yielded data that showed similarity to trends from a decade ago pertaining to product categories associated with a certain gender. However, significant progressive changes were also identified in several categories. This included reduced gaps between portrayals of males and females at work or at home, thus indicating a reversal of traditional gender stereotyping through online advertising, contributing to future research on gender egalitarianism.

Keywords: gender role portrayals, gendered advertising, social cognitive theory, YouTube, content analysis