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A comparison of gender role portrayals in magazine advertising: The United States, China and Thailand

Lin Zhang (School of Business, Truman State University, Kirksville, Missouri, USA)
Pataradech “Tony” Srisupandit (Department of Marketing, Quantitative Analysis and Business Law, Mississippi State University, Starkville, Mississippi, USA)
Debra Cartwright (School of Business, Truman State University, Kirksville, Missouri, USA)

Management Research News

ISSN: 0140-9174

Article publication date: 19 June 2009




The purpose of this paper is to try to determine to what extent differences and similarities in sociopolitical, cultural and economic backgrounds are reflected in gender role portrayals in magazine advertisements in the USA, China and Thailand.


Content analysis is used. Five different magazine categories are selected from the USA, China and Thailand in 2007: news and general interest; sports; entertainment; women's and business. The coding system employed is modified from Courtney and Lockeretz.


Overall, the paper finds that advertisers in Thailand, China and America shared some gender stereotyping. In addition, Chinese and Thai magazine advertisements show more gender stereotyping, while US advertisements show more egalitarian representations. These findings are consistent with their respective culture backgrounds.

Research limitations/implications

The use of content analysis is limited because it is mainly descriptive in nature and adequate causal explanations cannot be established. Besides, this research is cross‐sectional and the changes in gender role portrayals in cultures over time cannot be sufficiently captured.

Practical implications

The paper's observations support the hypotheses that the sociopolitical, cultural and economic differences of the three countries lead to different gender role attitudes in each society, and these different attitudes need to be considered by international advertisers. The paper also suggests that international advertisers should carefully consider the use of gender role stereotypes in their creative design, for the benefit both of the advertisers and the society.


No similar studies have been conducted on Thai advertisements and the most recent study in China was in 1997. It is also worthwhile to examine gender role portrayals in advertisements from three countries with unique sociopolitical backgrounds: the capitalistic USA (with Judeo‐Christian values), socialist China (with weak Confucian values) and capitalistic Thailand (with strong Confucian values).



Zhang, L., “Tony” Srisupandit, P. and Cartwright, D. (2009), "A comparison of gender role portrayals in magazine advertising: The United States, China and Thailand", Management Research News, Vol. 32 No. 7, pp. 683-700.



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Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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