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Sexy Girls, Heroes and Funny Losers

Gender Representations in Children’s TV around the World

Maya Götz and Dafna Lemish

Sexy Girls, Heroes and Funny Losers: Gender Representations in Children’s TV around the World presents the most comprehensive study to date of gender images on children’s television. Conducted in 24 countries around the world, the study employed different methodologies and analyses. The findings illustrate how stereotypes of femininity and masculinity are constructed and promoted to children. It presents findings that may well require even the most cynical observer to admit that, despite some great strides, children’s television worldwide is still a very conservative force that needs to be reimagined and transformed!

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Preface – How It All Began...

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“Gender representation inequalities in children’s TV. What? That’s still an issue?” “We have many strong girl characters, more than boy characters.” Both of these statements are typical responses by children’s television executives and producers when gender representation issues are raised. Yet, from research as, unfortunately, both equality as well as diversity “still” need to be worked on intensely in children’s television, as well as in societies, worldwide, in general. Interestingly, gender representation is an area with substantial potential for collaboration between researchers and TV-executives. As part of a public broadcasting service, the International Central Institute for Youth and Educational Television (IZI) at the Bavarian Broadcasting Cooperation in Germany is well- placed to advance realization of this collaborative potential since the IZI mission is to promote quality in children’s, youth and educational television. One very concrete point for such collaboration is to foster sensitive, critical examination of the representations of gender in children’s television. In addition, IZI has long realized that with an increasingly globalized media industry, such a pursuit can only be productive in the long run if it takes place within an international context. One outstanding opportunity to combine research with praxis, in order to promote social change, is provided by the PRIX JEUNESSE INTERNATIONAL; a biannual festival and workshop with over 450 experts and decision makers of children’s TV from over 60 countries who come together for six days to share their work, to learn, and to discuss such issues. The central theme of the 2008 gathering of...

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