Graduation Year

2005

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Mass Communications

Major Professor

Larry Leslie, PhD.

Co-Major Professor

Kenneth Killebrew, PhD

Keywords

UPN network, Stereotypes, Professional, Workforce statistics, Sweeps month

Abstract

This study examined portrayals of African-American women shown in professional careers on prime-time network television during the May 2005 sweeps month. Specifically, the study compares these portrayals to actual U.S. Department of Labor workforce statistics to observe a possible similarity. Additionally, the study identifies any behavioral and conversational stereotyped attributes ascribed to African-American female characters shown in the workplace. A quantitative content analysis of four broadcast networks (FOX, ABC, UPN, and WB) ranked by Nielsen Media as having the highest rated prime-time television programming among minority households for 2003-2004 revealed that African-American female characters on network television are over-represented in terms of professional careers in comparison to their actual presence in U.S. workforce statistics.

However, their actual presence in these careers is higher than that of African-American male characters on network television, which closely resembles the distribution of professional African-American males and females in the U.S. working population. The results also revealed that out of the four networks, UPN had a substantially greater number of African-American female characters in professional careers, but their representations include subtle messages of racial/ethnic stereotypical behaviors commonly associated with African-Americans.

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