Superwomen on the big screen: How media portrayals affect female viewers
Joseph J. Everett, Sara M. Martino
Background: There are a growing number of motion pictures and television series that feature superwomentype protagonists. This requires an investigation to explore the effect that motion picture portrayals of “superwomen” (women who adhere to the superwoman ideal of femininity) can have on the gender role expectations of female viewers. Materials and Methods: Undergraduate female college students with an average age of 21.7 years old participated in this study at an arts college in a suburban area on the U.S. East coast. Adherence to the superwoman ideal (SWI) was measured using An adapted 23-item version of the superwomen scale (SWS) for college students. While Cronbach’s alpha was 0.82 in that original use of the adapted scale, More recent publications have found the reliability to be consistent at 0.88. Results: Results show that women exposed to a movie trailer featuring a superwoman protagonist report significantly higher scores on the superwomen scale (SWS) than participants in the control group, who watched no video clip. With a Cronbach’s alpha of 0.89, the internal validity of the SWS was supported. Consistent with previous research, it was also found that body dissatisfaction, as measured by Stunkard’s figure rating scale ], and scores on the SWS were positively and significantly correlated. Conclusion: Overall, the results support the validity of the SWS and suggest that women’s gender role expectations can be influenced, at least temporarily, by exposure to certain types of female protagonists in motion pictures.