Survey shows Gowanda students’ feelings about the media portrayal of gender


Approximately half of the student body expressed their opinions about the media and gender.

Michele Jackson and Hanna Green, Staff Writers

The media. We use it every day. The news, Facebook, Instagram – all things we use daily. So how does it impact our everyday lives? It’s the age-old question on how the media can change our opinions, our views on everyday problems and even how we see ourselves.

The question we explored is how is gender portrayed in the media, and is it done fairly? That is what we will show based on a survey taken by 200 Gowanda High School students.

Gowanda, in general, is a diverse school, with a high Native American population. Additionally, out of the 200 answers on our survey, 107 were female, 83 were male, five were non-binary (or not believing you have a gender); two were agender (or not having a gender); two were gender fluid (ranging from gender to gender); and one was transgender.

The media is defined as an online platform for mass communication. Out of the 200 students from Gowanda High School that took the survey, the three most frequently used media platforms are as follows: 91.5% of students use Youtube, 82% of students use Snapchat and 81.5% of students use Instagram.

In addition to types of media consumed, we also asked what movies people would rather watch. This led us to see what was more popular – “masculine” films or “feminine” films.

The Phoenix staff also wanted to see how people thought the two main genders were portrayed in the media. The most agreed with the notion of male characters being “goofballs,” meaning the one who isn’t too smart, doesn’t make good decisions, and is pretty much the comical relief. The runner up was strong. This of course was no surprise; the stereotypical guy is buff, can do heavy lifting, and shows few emotions.

We asked the same question about female characters. The most popular answer was intelligent, with a great body and kind tying for second. So most people automatically see women as smart, kind and fit. It’s stereotypical for us to be bright and good looking.

In another section of the survey, students were asked if they thought males were portrayed fairly in the media. The results showed 43.5% of students felt neutral, 26% agreed and only 13.5% disagreed.

Similarly, students were asked if they thought women were portrayed fairly by the media. Much like responses about males, the majority (40%) stayed neutral, but unlike the last section, more students disagreed with the statement: 22% agreed while 19% disagreed.

In conclusion, Gowanda High School students seem relatively neutral about they way they see gender portrayed in the media.

Reporters’ note: As students, we have heard some comments disregarding both women and men; so this was really interesting to see what students would say in a formal setting.