Gender and the news anchor

An interesting article on the increasingly bold fashion choices of women in the news

cites some really interesting research about how viewers respond:

Researchers wonder how the new look of news is affecting viewers. Maria Elizabeth Grabe, a telecommunications professor at Indiana University Bloomington, co-authored a study on the impact of sexualization on news viewership. She found that the more “sexualized” a female anchor is, (i.e. bold makeup and clingy clothes), the less likely male viewers are to remember the news. [emphasis mine]  For her 2011 study, a 24-year-old anchor read the same news broadcast twice, once in androgynous, loose-fitting clothing and little makeup and again while wearing bold makeup and attire that accentuated her waist-to-hip ratio. Viewers found the sexualized anchor less credible, but women remembered more from the sexualized anchor’s broadcast, indicating a gender gap in how viewers remember news content.

“The old wisdom of femininity not getting in the way of the news has been thrown out,” Grabe said. “I think the news consultancy business is driving the changes. . . . With cable news networks taking off, it’s all about eyeballs and getting an audience.”

Now, what in the world is with women remembering better from the sexualized anchor?  And it would be interesting to know why men remember less. Is it because their brains are distracted by focusing on other things than what the women is saying?  Something to do with the credibility?  Do they simply pay less attention period?  Anyway, pretty interesting stuff.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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