1.1       Background to the Study

Every society in the world has specific roles peculiar to each gender. These roles are based on the sex of the individual. Blackstone (2003) defines gender roles as the roles men and women are expected to occupy based on their sex. According to her, gender roles are based on the different expectations that individuals, groups and societies have of individuals based on their sex and based on each society’s values and beliefs about gender. Gender roles vary among different societies in the world.

Take Africa for example particularly in Nigeria. Over the years, there has been noticeable changes in the gender role system for men and women. Falola and Mckenna, (2007) examine that from the precolonial times to the 21st century, the roles of women and men in Nigeria has evolved. During the precolonial era, women played roles in social and economic activities. There was a form of division of labour among the genders where women engaged in food processing, mat weaving, cooking and pottery making. Among the Yoruba people at the time, women where center to trade, they were major figures in long distance trading (Giuliano, 2017).

During the 20th century, patriarchy and colonization altered the gender role system. Where the males collaborated with British colonial masters to gather taxes and governing, which resulted to a decline in female importance (Olatunji, 2017b). And when the economy at the time was geared towards the production of cash crops and exports, Nigerian men collaborated with European firms, pushing the women to remain in the background. Western education also favoured boys more than it the girls, there by excluding women from the various opportunities brought about by colonialism.

However, the 21st century brought about modernization and a powerful agency for change for Nigerian women which is formal education. This agency breeds a large number of educated elite Nigerian women filled with education, intelligence and confidence. This modern era has changed the dynamic of the traditional gender role system in Nigeria, as women now fight for equality with men.

The fact that the world is evolved and in fact is still evolving, certain things regarding these gender roles have changed. Technology and modernization collective played a huge role in this change. The innovation of new technology and upgraded standard of living, created new opportunities for both genders to partake in. Women are found not restricted to only family roles, they are presently encouraged to take up more dominating roles in the society that also influence the growth of the society in general. While men now also take house and family roles like cooking, cleaning, child care etc.

However, the subject of gender roles cannot be discussed alone without involving the media. This is because there has always been a relationship between the media and gender as well as media and society. Media plays a key role in shaping a society. Hence the influence and importance of the media over societal beliefs and values cannot be over emphasized, as it plays a major role in societal development. It is true that the media holds a mirror to the society, as it represents what is already existing in the society. But does the media project modern or traditional gender roles particularly in their TV commercials. This research work seeks to find out if the media is merely reflecting society as it is or if they are reinforcing what they belief to be the current gender roles in the society.


1.2       Statement of the Problem

 The media are supposed to be an agent of change in every society. A key factor that promotes growth and development for the society as well as it members. However, it seems like this change is only limited to one gender in the society. Londo (2019) in her research on representation of gender roles in women’s magazine, explained that the way media covers gender related issues both reflect the existing social mentality and stereotypes and it can either transform or reinforce them. Although, many scholars have examined the topic of gender inequality in the media, few of them have examined the way media reinforce gender stereotypes. This research work examines and critically analyze this gab in knowledge.


This study aims to access the accuracy of media reinforcement of current African societal gender roles in some selected TV commercials.

1.4       Objective of the Study

The general objective of the study is to examine how media represent gender roles in TV commercials.

The specific objectives are to;

  1. examine the roles assigned to men and women in Nigerian TV commercials.
  2. determine the extent to which roles assigned to both gender in TV commercials reinforce existing stereotypes.
  3. examine the relationship between gender and type of product in TV commercials.
  4. determine the extent to which advertisers stick with existing gender stereotypes in TV commercials.

1.5       Research Questions

  1. What roles are assigned to men and women in Nigerian TV commercials?
  2. To what extent do roles assigned to both gender in TV commercials reinforce existing stereotypes?
  3. Is there a relationship between gender and type of product in TV commercials?
  4. To what extent do advertisers stick with existing gender stereotypes in TV commercials?

1.6       Significance of the Study

It is important to note that firstly, this study is significant to the contribution of knowledge to the department of Mass Communication, Redeemers’ University.

It is expected that at the end of this study, there would be updated knowledge within the framework of the subject matter. Particularly, it will assist people’s views on the usefulness of media in mobilizing women and how media represent gender roles in TV commercial. This study will draw the attention of government to empower women to participate in all facet of lives through the use of radio, television, films and motion pictures in their packaging of media reports and events and to academics in their practices and training of journalists. The government should promote the welfare of women in general. This will certainly promote women participation in media

1.7       Scope of the Study

The research scope focuses on a number of careful selected television commercials, that portray gender stereotyped roles in the society. The paper will examine the gender roles in traditional African system and the roles in modern African system to determine if there has been a change or if they are still the same. A number of selected TV commercials will then be analyzed to determine if the media is simply portraying these already existing roles, and from what era.

1.8       Limitation of the Study

No research work is without difficulties or challenges; these obstacles are what makes the research better and more valuable. During the course of this research there have been limitations and challenges ranging from not knowing where to start from or what to write, not knowing the types and proper materials to study for proper information on the research work, limitation of funds for conducting research as well as personal health issues such as stress, headaches, sleepless nights and mild depression. However, the researcher will be able to maximize the benefits offered to produce the content of this project.

1.9       Definition of Terms

Television: Television is an electronic device which transmits picture and sound which is used for entertainment, information and commercials and a sight medium through which messages and information ideas are communicated to a wide range of audience.

Television Commercials: Television commercials are a combination of programmes; historical, scientific, social, religious, economic and other matters, viewed especially by people to broaden their cosmological perspectives giving them better insight into the happenings in the society and environment.

Gender: World Health Organization (WHO), ender refers to the socially constructed characteristics of women and men- such as norms, roles and relationships of and between men and women. This concept varies from society to society and can be changed.

Women: Refers to the female gender, the opposite of male gender.

Role: The degree to which somebody/something is involved in a situation or an activity and the effect that they have on it.

Gender Roles: Gender roles are those distinctive characteristics placed on individuals by societies, based on that societies belief, values and culture. These gender roles define the responsibilities of the sexes.

According to Wikipedia, gender roles are also known as sex roles, and they socially encompass a range of behaviors acceptable, appropriate, or desirable for people based on their biological or perceived sex.

Media: The media is a broad term that refer to the main means of mass communication. Also refers to the various channels through which information is being passed across to the general public. However, throughout the course of this study, the word media would refer to television specifically.