Graduation Year

2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Mass Communications

Major Professor

Ken Killebrew

Keywords

action, gender, new media, sports, volleyball, women

Abstract

Researchers consistently find that mainstream media often represent women athletes in stereotypical ways including trivialization, sexualization, infantilization, passivity, and utilization of camera down-angles. However, research on new media's visual representation of women athletes is still in its infancy. This study adds to the growing literature on new media's representation of women athletes and concurs with previous findings suggesting that new media might be an outlet that can counter old media gender stereotypes. This thesis used mixed methods of qualitative content analysis and photovoice in order to better understand how Big East volleyball players are represented in photographs on websites: Instances of stereotypes were few, action shots were numerous, and "extreme game faces" emerged as a new category for the visual representation of women athletes. These results might suggest that new media, specifically collegiate athletics' websites and volleyball fans, might defy traditional media's stereotypical gender representations. This thesis found that Big East women volleyball players were, overall, visually represented positively by NCAA.com, BigEast.org, Big East member schools' collegiate athletics websites, and fans of the University of South Florida's volleyball team during, and shortly after, the 2010 season.

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