Sana, Elina (ed.)
Title:Women, men and children's programs. Naiset, miehet ja lastenohjelmat.
Published in:Publications of the equality-board of Finnish Broadcasting Company
Volume/Part:series A: 2/1995
Publisher:Finnish Broadcasting Company
Type:Published works
Keywords:gender image, childrenĀ“s programs
No electronic version available.

      According to Annikka Suoninen, the author of the first part of the book (Gender of Children's Programs), children get a remarkable part of their knowledge and experiences through television. This may lead into situation where children start to behave in the real world according to models that are available and functional in media world(s). Suoninen assumes the effect of television is most remarkable in the age when gender identity is formed, that is, in early childhood and puberty. To analyse the gender image of children's programs Suoninen looks firstly at the quantity of men/boys/male characters and women/girls/female characters appearing in programs, secondly at the relevance and activity of these characters in programs and thirdly at the interpretations of children about gender roles in programs. The material of the research consists of children's programs in Finnish television (three channels, four production-units) during one week in February 1995 and interviews of 4-7 years old viewers.

      The 550 minutes of children's programs analysed in research consisted mainly of magazine-programs and long animations. Two out of three characters in these programs were male; 57% of real persons and 70% of fictional characters were male. Female characters were more passive, more often characterized through their family-role (vs. occupation) and usually "co-staring" in series with male leading characters. In realistic parts of magazine programs children are often shown as passive objects of adults' actions, where as in fiction children are active actors. Nikunen argues that the children's programs of the Finnish television support the masculine hegemony through various representations of masculinity. She thinks that a wider role-scale (for example women surviving without help from men) should be represented in children's programs, and that "rude gender stereotypes" may have been cleaned away too thoroughly: to 5-6-years old children exaggeratedly masculine and feminine characters seem to be pleasurable and important models of identification.

      In the second (shorter) part of the book Outi Kattelus focuses on one popular magazine program for children called 'Little Two' ('Pikku kakkonen'). Male domination can be seen in the 15 different drama series analysed, in which there are five times more male leading characters than female ones. Kattelus also points out that because the programs are repeatedly shown every five-seven years to new child-generations, the gender structure represented in the programs changes very slowly.
Last Modified: 15.04.2002