Pretty and Plastic: The Real Life Pressures to be News Anchor Barbie

Open Access
Davis, Stefanie Elizabeth
Graduate Program:
Media Studies
Master of Arts
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
May 14, 2014
Committee Members:
  • Colleen Connolly Ahern, Thesis Advisor
  • female broadcasters
  • gender inequality
  • credibility
  • appearance
  • feminism
  • power
This paper explores the current role of women in the television news industry. Women are increasingly getting more opportunities in this historically male-dominated career, but does inclusion mean equality? Through in-depth interviews with female newscasters, I explore challenges facing women in the television news industry today. Using a feminist lens of analysis, I tease out themes common among these women. These themes include: pressure to meet unattainable beauty standards, being placed in secondary or sexualized roles in the newsroom and in the field, and balancing credibility and intelligence with attractiveness and sexuality to build audience rapport. These female broadcasters take their roles as credible public servants seriously, yet are forced to negotiate through gender-biased challenges each and every day. These are challenges not faced by male newscasters, thus adding to the social power imbalance in the industry. The hope for this research is to spark a conversation that can lead to positive change for women in the broadcast news business.