University of Kansas Scholar Analyzes Self-Portrayals of Top Women Athletes

Web, newsBarbara Barnett, an associate professor of journalism at the University of Kansas, is the author of a study entitled, “Girls Gone Web: Self-Depictions of Female Athletes on Personal Websites,” which she will present this month at the annual conference of the International Association of Media and Communication Research in Dublin, Ireland.

Professor Barnett examined not how the press portrayed women athletes but how women athletes presented themselves when they controlled the message on the pages of their personal websites. After conducting analyses of the websites of women medal winners from the most recent summer and winter Olympic games and the websites of the highest-paid women professional athletes, Dr. Barnett found that these highly accomplished women often portrayed themselves in sexy or provocative poses and presented themselves as traditional wives, girlfriends, or mothers. Often the athletes showcased themselves as avid shoppers and cooks.

Dr. Barnett stated, “You see women reinforcing the natural order of things through these websites. They reinforce that they’re not a threat to men, that they don’t want to challenge men. The gender roles are so ingrained that people don’t challenge them.”

Dr. Barnett is a graduate of what is now the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. She holds a master’s degree from Duke University and a Ph.D. in journalism and mass communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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