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Gender stereotypes against female leaders in the Vietnamese media

Technical Report

Gender stereotypes against female leaders in the Vietnamese media

Abstract and Figures

This report is part of an effort led by Oxfam in Vietnam in order to provide empirical research on gender stereotypes and prejudices against women’s leadership in Vietnam. It was conducted by a team of researchers in late 2015 and early 2016. The report seeks to answer several questions including the portrayals of female leaders in the news in Vietnam, journalists’ attitudes to and perception of women’s political leadership, and how these attitudes and perceptions may infuence news content production. It also provides recommendations for interventions. Ultimately its goal is to contribute to changing the biased perception of women’s leadership among the media and the public in Vietnam, thus helping increase the representation of women in the country’s legislative, administrative and business systems. The report is based on a review of the literature and an analysis of original data collected in late 2015 and early 2016. This report analyzes three types of data including news content, survey and in-depth interviews.
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GENDER STEREOTYPES
against female leaders
IN THE VIETNAMESE MEDIA
This report was written with funding from Oxfam in Vietnam. The study was conducted by a
group of consultants including Dr. Vu Tien Hong, Mr. Duong Trong Hue , Dr. Tien-Tsung Lee,
and Dr. Barbara Barnett.
This report would not have been possible without support from the Oxfam in Vietnam team.
Thank you for your invaluable comments and support.
We are also grateful for the assistance we received from many individuals, whose work and
support contributed greatly to this report. Our appreciation goes to Ms. Hoang Xuan Lan, Ms.
Nguyen Thu Thuy, Ms. Pham Minh Tam, Ms. Lu Thuy Linh, Mr. Pham Hieu, Dr. Nguyen Tai Thai,
Ms. Cao Thi Thu, Ms. Do Minh Thuy, Ms. Vu Huong Giang, Ms. Chu Hong Van, Ms. Nguyen Hoang
Ha, Ms. Phan Thi Cam, and Mr. Cole Anneberg.
Our special thanks go to the journalists who participated in this study. Thank you for your
time and your insights.
The Research Team
Vũ Tiến Hồng
Dương Trọng Huế
Barbara Barnett
Tien-Tsung Lee.
Acknowledgements
contents
Executive Summary 7
1. introduction 10
2. context 12
3. theoretical framework 17
3.1. Mass media and their effects on public perception 18
3.2. Journalists and factors that inuence the news production proces 19
3.3. Gender stereotypes against female leaders 20
3.4. Vietnamese culture and changes in gender stereotypes 20
4. methods 22
4.1. Identify gender stereotypes in news content 23
4.2. Factors inuencing reporters during news production process 25
4.3. Recommendations for raising awareness and
changing behaviors of journalists with regard to women’s leadership 25
5. News Content Analysis 26
5.1. Common issues related to female leaders in the news 27
5.2. Gender biased details in news stories related to women leaders 30
6. JOURNALISTS’ PERCEPTION AND FACTORS
INFLUENCING GATEKEEPING PROCESS 34
6.1. Factors deriving from environment, workplace and society 35
6.2. Journalists’ attitude toward male and female leaders 38
6.3. Factors inuencing news production 42
7. Conclusions & Recommendations 45
7.1. Journalists’ solutions 46
7.2. Conclusions 47
7.3.Recommendations 48
Executive
Summary
Photo: Tineke D'haese/Oxfam
Context
Over the past years, Vietnam has undergone a
remarkable economic transformation, which
lifted it out of poverty to become a middle-income
country. Vietnam has also been praised for its
efforts in promoting gender equality and women’s
empowerment. The literacy rate of females over
15 years old was recorded at 93.3% in 2015. Women’s
participation in the country’s workforce had also
risen to 48.4 % in the same year 1.
Despite these promising signs, challenges still remain
in relation to encouraging women’s equal
participation and leadership in the decision-making
process, which has proven to be essential to
achieving and ensuring sound social justice and
sustainable development. Vietnamese women
continue to face obstacles in participating on
an equal footing and taking up leadership positions.
Barriers constraining women’s ability to obtain
leadership positions are many. One of those is voters’
stereotypical attitude toward female leadership, which
may have resulted in the low percentages of women
in elected bodies including the National Assembly and
the People’s Councils.
Voters use double standards when deciding
whether or not to select a female candidate, expecting
a good female leader to rst fulll her role as a mother
and a wife before taking on her work responsibilities.
Participants of the study frequently referred to the
mainstream media to back up their biased attitude to
and stereotypes against women’s leadership. Thus,
understanding whether or not gender stereotypes
exist in the news, as well as journalists’ perception of
female leadership, provides useful insights into which
1 Vietnam’s General Statistics Ofce (2016)
Số liệu thống kê. Retrieved September 15, 2016 from:
https://www.gso.gov.vn/default.aspx?tabid=714
interventions should be implemented to achieve the
ultimate goal of improving public attitudes toward
women’s leadership.
Major findings
The frequencies of female leaders being sourced in
the news were far lower than those of male leaders,
especially in the government sector. This
demonstrates that female leaders are disappointingly
under-represented in the news despite their contribu-
tion and participation in the workforce. Female leaders’
invisibility in news content is an indication that their
voices and perspectives are not adequately presented.
It sends messages to audiences that female leaders
do not usually have the authority or do not qualify
to be in positions with authority to be in the media
spotlight.
The news media perpetuate gender stereotypes
against female leaders by setting the boundary of
work areas that are supposedly more suitable to
their femininity through their use of sources. Female
sources were sought out more often for news stories
on traditionally feminine issues (e.g. children/family,
women’s rights, health, poverty reduction, or elderly
people). They were almost absent in areas/issues that
are often weighted more heavily in the government’s
administration, including military/security, real estate;
economics; international relations, science and
technology, etc.
In addition, the news media have contributed to
creating and perpetuating stereotypes of what a
successful woman should look like in the
contemporary Vietnamese society. That is: Only those
female leaders who can handle their dual roles and
responsibilities both in families as traditional women
and in the workplace as modern women are considered
ideal. There is a disconnect between journalists’
general perception of gender equality and their
8
9
attitudes toward female leadership. Journalists per-
ceive that men and women should be treated equally
both at home and at work, and that gender inequality
is still an issue that Vietnam needs to continue to
improve. But they also believe men have traits (e.g.
decisive, competitive, etc.) that are congruent to those
of leaders, while women do not have qualities to lead.
Three factors that inuence the production process of
stereotypical news against female leaders include the
audience, journalists’ working and living environments,
and the news selection routines.
Recommendations
Journalists seem to have general knowledge of
gender equality and gender stereotypes but lack
understanding of how these manifest into their
daily work routines. Future training courses should
address this gap.
We recommend incorporating “women and the
news” into formal journalism training programs at
different colleges in the country. This is expected
to bring about longer lasting effects on future
professional news workers.
Incorporating regulations and guidelines on
gender stereotypes into professional guidebooks
or codes of conduct of news organizations is
also recommended. More training on gender
stereotypes guidelines to editorial teams is
recommended so that they can apply, supervise
and enforce the new rules.
Women’s rights organizations and the existing
gender justice coalition advocating for gender
equality should step up their role in monitoring
and holding dialogues with journalists and news
organizations on a daily basis with the goal of
ensuring gender-stereotype-free news media
content.
Building capacity and raising awareness for
women’s rights organizations and activists
should be included in future programs to avoid
propagating stereotypes in the name of promoting
gender equality.
10
1. INTROUCTION
Photo: Le Thanh Hoa
11
This report is part of an effort led by Oxfam in Vietnam in order to provide
empirical research on gender stereotypes and prejudices against women’s
leadership in Vietnam. It was conducted by a team of researchers in
late 2015 and early 2016. The report seeks to answer several questions
including the portrayals of female leaders in the news in Vietnam, journal-
ists’ attitudes to and perception of women’s political leadership, and how
these attitudes and perceptions may inuence news content production.
It also provides recommendations for interventions. Ultimately its goal is
to contribute to changing the biased perception of women’s leadership
among the media and the public in Vietnam, thus helping increase the
representation of women in the country’s legislative, administrative and
business systems.
The report is based on a review of the literature and an analysis of original
data collected in late 2015 and early 2016. This report analyzes three
types of data including news content, survey and in-depth interviews.
The report begins with a section on the context of women’s leadership in
Vietnam. The second section is a brief review of the literature. Here, we
provide rationale for the project. The subsequent section focuses on the
methods used in conducting the research. The fourth section presents
the ndings. Recommendations are discussed in the last section.
12
2. Context
Photo: Tran Thiet Dung
13
Over the past three decades, Vietnam has gone a
long way in its economic development journey. Living
standards have improved signicantly as poverty rates
have dropped from nearly 60% in the early years of Doi
Moi, the economic reform started in the late 1980s, to
20.7% in 2010, according to Vietnam’s General Statistic
Ofce 2. Besides, the country has been praised for its
efforts in promoting gender equality and women em-
powerment. In 2015, female literacy rates in Vietnam
exceeded 93%, and women accounted for 48.4% of the
skilled workforce 3.
Vietnam’s gender equality achievements are due in
part to its strong legal framework. For example, the
country ratied the U.N.’s Convention for Elimination
of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
in 1982, and passed of the Law on Gender Equality
in 2006 and Law on Domestic Violence Prevention
and Control in 2007 4. These were important steps in
setting up a legal framework to maintain equality and
encourage both men and women to participate in all
elds.
In terms of structural changes, the Vietnamese
government has made strong commitments to
increasing women’s representation in the country’s
political system. For example, in its action program
to 2020, the government of Vietnam set a goal of
increasing the number of female deputies to 35-40%
as well as in having more women to hold key political
leadership positions in government agencies 5. These
2 World Bank (2013) Poverty Reduction in
Vietnam: Remarkable Progress, Emerging Challenges.
Retrieved from: http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/
feature/2013/01/24/poverty-reduction-in-viet-
nam-remarkable-progress-emerging-challenges
3 Vietnam’s General Statistics Ofce (2016) Số
liệu thống kê. Retrieved September 15, 2016 from:
https://www.gso.gov.vn/default.aspx?tabid=714.
4 United Nations (2010) “Delivering as One’ for
Gender Equality.” U.N. in Vietnam, Hanoi Vietnam.
5 Government of Vietnam (2007) Government
commitments have had positive results: After the
country began Doi Moi, the number of female deputies
in the National Assembly had increased from 18% in
1987 to 27.3% in 2002 6. In the latest term of the party
congress beginning in 2016, three women were
selected as members of the Politburo, the most
powerful political body of the country.
Despite these efforts and promising signs,
challenges still remain in relation to encouraging
women’s equal participation and leadership in the
decision-making process, which has proven to be
essential to achieving and ensuring sound social
justice and sustainable development. Vietnamese
women continue to face obstacles in participating
on an equal footing and taking up leadership posi-
tions. At the national level, the latest two terms of
the National Assembly saw the percentage of female
deputies falling from 27.3% in 2002 to 24.4% in 2011.
In 2016, the ratio of female deputies elected for the
ve-year term went up slightly to 25.2%. There has
been a decrease in the number of elected women, as
well as the number of women appointed as Heads of
Committees in the National Assembly. Figures from
the National Assembly show that, in the term between
2011 and 2016, women account for only one fourth of
the total number of elected representatives in People’s
Councils at the district and provincial levels. Addition-
ally, the number of women holding such key positions
as Chairs of People’s Councils or People’s Committees
is still low. According to a recent report by the United
Nations Development Program, in the ministerial
system, women are more likely to be in supportive roles
Program of Action for the Period to 2020 on Implemen-
tation of the Resolution 11- NQ/TW on the Work for
Women in the Period of Accelerating Industrialization
and Modernization.
6 Vandenbeld, Anita and Ha Hoa Ly (2012)
“Women’s Representation in the National Assembly of
Vietnam - the Way Forward” – Report.
than in directive and decision-making positions 7.
In ministries, the proverbial ‘glass ceiling’ tends to
hold women at the deputy director level. Membership
in the Communist Party is viewed as an essential cri-
terion for promotion to key leadership positions; yet
of more than three million Party members, only about
one third are women. Vietnam sets the retirement
age for women at 55 years and 60 years for men. This
ve-year gap has been seen as a double challenge
for women in obtaining leadership positions because
besides education, experience, and capabilities,
the length of time a person can stay in a leadership
position before reaching retirement is important to
consider. Retiring ve years earlier than men, thus,
shortens women’s professional careers and limits
their chance of being appointed to leadership posi-
7 United Nations Development Program (2007)
Women’s representation in leadership in Vietnam.
tions 8. In the business area, according to Vietnam
Chamber of Commerce and Industry, women owned
only 20% of the country’s total registered enterprises
9. These statistics painted a gloomy picture of women
leadership in Vietnam; posing serious risks to the
success of the country’s strategic plan to improve
gender equality.
Admittedly, Vietnam has done a remarkable job in
institutionalizing gender equality by mapping out its
detailed plans on improving the situation in this area
8 Võ, An Ngọc & Strachan, G. (2008) Gender
equity in a transforming economy. Paper presented at
Ninth International women in Asia conference, Univer-
sity of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.
9 Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry
(2006) “Hanoi Targeted Policies that support women’s
entrepreneurship can boost Vietnam’s economic
growth.” No. 13 (16) April 2006, Business Issues Bulle-
tin Hanoi.
14
Photo: Dustin Barter/Oxfam
15
as well as in promoting women’s representation in the
administrative, judicial and legislative systems 10. In
its National Strategy on Gender Equality for the period
2011-2020, Vietnam set a target to have a minimum
of 35% of National Assembly members to be female
representatives. The government has also imple-
mented numerous strategies to increase women’s
participation in leadership positions. These goals will
not be met unless sufcient and concerted efforts are
made to promote women’s leadership. For example, the
gender quota in people’s elected bodies would not be
effective without implementing strategies to increase
public and potential female candidates for leadership
positions. As seen in previous elections, it is possible
that there may not be enough female candidates, or
even if there are, voters might not select them.
Barriers constraining women’s ability to obtain lead-
ership positions are many, according to researchers
and policymakers. Some are internal, while others
come from external environments. For example,
in a study looking at gender-related obstacles to
Vietnamese female entrepreneurs, Hampel-Milagrosa,
Pham, Nguyen, & Nguyen (2010) 11 found that women’s
perception of their own knowledge, skills and
opportunities to succeed is a major factor in women’s
decisions on whether or not to start a business
initiative. In terms of external, research in the area of
gender equality showed that both cultural and
institutional factors such as social norms, which
dictate the roles of members in societies, or the
regulatory environment, could bar women from
attaining leadership positions.
10 Vandenbeld, Anita. & Ha, Hoa Ly (2012) “Wom-
en’s Representation in the National Assembly of Viet-
nam - the Way Forward” – Report.
11 Hampel-Milagrosa, Aimee, Pham, Van Hong,
Nguyen, Anh Quoc, and Nguyen, Tri Thanh, (2010). Gen-
der related Obstacles To Vietnamese Women Entrepre-
neurs. United Nations Industrial Development Organiza-
tion, Vienna, Austria.
Assessing gender differences in management through
its recent national survey on 8,500 people in nine
provinces across the country, the Institute for Social
Development Studies found that the number of men
managing more than 10 staff members in government
ofces, companies or factories was signicantly
higher than that of women. At the same educational
level, more men than women are in charge of larger
numbers of staff. The ndings demonstrated that
women have fewer opportunities to be promoted to
higher management positions 12.
Comparing these factors, Hampel-Milagrosa et al.
(2010, p. 14) discovered that, Vietnamese women
“suffered more from traditional and internal, than from
regulatory factors when starting a business.” In recent
research, Oxfam in Vietnam found a similar result. That
is, the public as well as the women covered in a large
survey conducted in three provinces, view men as
more culturally and socially suitable for leadership
positions than women are. Specically, besides
competencies, voters also expect female candidates
to have gender-related qualities (nữ tính or femininity)
and to take good care of their families. These double
standards become criteria, which the public relies
on to make decisions on whether or not they should
select a female candidate to represent them in the
National Assembly or People’s Councils. One of the
sources participants of the study frequently referred to
as to back up their biased attitude to and stereotypes
against women’s leadership is the mainstream media 13.
In the coalition on promoting women’s leadership, a
large number of projects have been completed or are
ongoing to provide training to potential candidates for
women’s leadership at different levels. Besides helping
12 Viện nghiên cứu phát triển xã h�i (2016) Các
yếu tố xã h�i quyết định bất bình đẳng giới ở Việt Nam.
13 Oxfam in Vietnam & CEPEW (2014). Public’s
condence in and selection of women for political
leadership in Vietnam – Report.
female candidates or representatives deepen their
knowledge of the administrative and legal system
and improve their work skills, these projects are
essential to building condence among the candi-
dates. However, changing the public’s attitudes and
perception of women’s leadership in policymaking at
all levels of the state sectors as well as in the private
sector through media advocacy is also a critical
measure that is expected to bring positive results.
This research is part of ongoing efforts by Oxfam to
contribute to building a society that is free of
gender-based injustice, in which women can actively
participate in leadership positions at all levels and
areas. To do that, this study seeks to (1) identify the
pattern of gender stereotypes in the news,
(2) determine factors that inuence journalists in
news production when reporting on women
leadership, and (3) provide recommendations to
improve news content as well as professional
practices among journalists.
16
17
3. THeoretical
frameworks
Photo: Nguyen Phuong Thao/Oxfam
This research project is based on previous ndings
about the effects of the mainstream media on the
public’s perception. The theoretical framework used
to guide our work including questionnaire design or
content analysis was based on concepts in the eld
of mass communications effects. However, in seeking
better understanding of the issue as well as the
interaction between journalists in news content,
we incorporated also theories on gender roles.
3.1. Mass media and their effects
on public perception
Over the past decades, a signicant amount of
research has found that effects of the mainstream
media on public perception of social realities are
strong and pervasive. For example, in examining the
inuence of mass media on voters in North Carolina,
McCombs & Shaw (1972) 14 discovered that the public
tends to think issues that are high on the media
agenda are important. From these ndings, the two
scholars concluded that the media have the ability to
set the public agenda. Research along this line also
found that the media could set the agendas of the
government and other political actors as well. For more
than four decades, agenda setting has been used to
explain the relationships between the media, the
public and policymakers.
McCombs and Shaw’s agenda setting concept and
other popular theories in mass communications are
based on a common notion that a large part of our
knowledge of the world does not come from our own
experience, but is based on the social realities con-
structed by the media. For example, most of the people
in a city do not eyewitness nor are victims of crimes to
know that crime rates are increasing. Often, the infor-
14 McCombs, M. E., & Shaw, D. L. (1972). The
agenda-setting function of mass media. Public opinion
quarterly, 36(2), 176-187.
mation they receive is either from newspapers, radios,
television or online news sites.
News content can inuence people’s perception and
behaviors, according to research in this area. Maria
Elizabeth Grabe and Dan Dre (2006) 15 discovered that
reading news about crimes could cause fears among
the public, inuencing its evaluation of how effective
public security forces are and leading them to adopt
more protection measures. Recently there is a con-
siderable amount of information on crimes spread on
social media websites. However, if this information
does not come from reports by the mainstream media,
its credibility is often questioned.
With regard to social stereotypes, which are closely
related to the subject of this research, mass commu-
nication scholars have found that not only can news
media create, but they can also contribute to
perpetuating and reinforcing social stereotypes 16. Lori
Irving 17, for instance, found that the way the news
media report on fashion models can make female
readers feel bad about their body, losing their
self-condence. In addition, through images of fashion
models, fashion magazines and television shows have
contributed to re-dening beauty standards for men
and women, inuencing our evaluation of how ones look
or should look. In other words, the news media have the
ability to create social stereotypes.
15 Grabe, Maria Elizabeth, and Dan G. Drew. (2007)
“Crime cultivation: Comparisons across media genres
and channels.” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic
Media, 51(1): 147-171.
16 Bissell, Kim, & Parrott, Scott. (2013). Prejudice:
The role of the media in the development of social bias.
Journalism & Communication Monographs, 15(4), 219-
270.
17 Irving, Lori M. (1990) “Mirror images: Effects of
the standard of beauty on the self-and body-esteem
of women exhibiting varying levels of bulimic symp-
toms.” Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology 9(2),
230-242.
18
19
Researchers in the eld of mass communications have
found evidence of gender stereotypes in the news
and in mainstream media’s content. Researchers have
also found the effects of mainstream media content
with biased views on gender inuence the public’s
perception of the issue 18. For example, Baitinger 19
examined highly rated Sunday television shows in the
U.S. to nd that these shows particularly favored male
experts who were ofcials, journalists, and political
activists over their female counterparts. Of the 1,007
guests appearing on ve Sunday shows on CNN, Fox,
CBS, ABC and NBC over a three-year period, only 228
(23%) were women. Armstrong and Nelson (2005) found
that source use in the news is important
because exposure to biased news content with a
skewed distribution of men and women in occupations
can lead to the development of gender prejudices
among audiences. In so doing, the press perpetuates
gender stereotypes against female leadership leading
the audiences to perceive of a social structure where
men lead and women follow.
3.2. Journalists and factors
that inuence the news
production process
The evidence of the news media’s effects on the
public’s perception and behaviors has been well
documented. But questions still exist on why biased
content is produced and what factors inuence the
production of the news media content and the gate-
keeping process in news organizations. Although there
are many factors including those coming from news
organizations, journalism ideologies, sources or the
18 Armstrong, Cory L., and Michelle R. Nelson.
(2005)”How newspaper sources trigger gender stereo-
types.” Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly
82(4), 820-837.
19 Baitinger, Gail (2015) “Meet the Press or Meet
the Men? Examining Women’s Presence in American
News Media.” Political Research Quarterly.
government, obviously, these questions directly point
toward gatekeepers and news content creators, who
are at the center of the whole news production
process. Thus, an important part of this project
focused on journalists.
This project used hierarchy of inuences, a
theoretical paradigm developed by Pamela Shoemaker
and Stephen Reese in 1996. The two scholars (1996)
20 delineated a ve-level model of micro and macro
inuences on gatekeepers. The rst level -- the lowest
-- focuses on the individual factors of the communi-
cator (e.g., knowledge, ages, education, belief, culture
and personal values, etc.). The second level is media
routines (e.g., reporting using the 5 Ws and 1 H model;
daily decisions to be made in the newsroom on which
is a news brief and which makes a feature story, etc.).
The third level of the model concentrates on the orga-
nizational inuences (e.g., internal structure,
ownership, goal, and policy). Extramedia forces or
factors extrinsic to media organizations constitute
the fourth level (e.g., sources, advertisers, audience,
government control, market competition, technology).
The last level is media ideology.
The relative inuence and impact of factors on gate-
keepers are not permanent, but vary depending on
what issue is being discussed or published. For
example, a factor’s inuence on the production
process of a political news piece would be different
from that of an entertainment story. It is important
to note that recognizing which factor inuences the
gatekeeping process including multiple newsroom
activities involving news selection and presentation
is not easy for the gatekeepers themselves. In many
cases, journalists are not aware of the inuence,
especially with regard to such issues that often root in
traditional culture and beliefs as gender stereotypes.
20 Shoemaker, Pamela J., and Stephen D. Reese
(2013) Mediating the message in the 21st century: A
media sociology perspective. Routledge.
3.3. Gender stereotypes against
female leaders
This research does not focus on gender stereotypes in
the news media in general but concentrates on
stereotypes against female leaders.
Elsewhere studying gender stereotypes against
women’s leadership in the news media is not new. For
example, in his research on news portrayals of the
candidates running for the governor positions in four
states including Arizona, Colorado, Maryland and Rhode
Island in 1998, James Dewitt 21 from the University of
Columbia found that when reporting on male
candidates, the news media focused heavily on
economic and their policies. News reports on female
candidates in the same elections however emphasized
their looks and personal traits. Dewitt argues that the
way the news media portray female candidates helps
explicate why they are less likely to succeed in the rac-
es to be governors of multiple states in the U.S.
According to women studies scholars, prejudices
against female leaders originate from the society’s
expectations and stereotypes toward women. Alice
Eagly and Steven Karau 22, the two researchers who
coined the term “role congruity,” contend that there
are stereotypes toward men and stereotypes toward
women. For example, women are expected to be softer,
more delicate, while men are seen as more powerful
and steadfast. These stereotypes are not only
expectations for each gender; they are also used to
evaluate a person’s capabilities and performance.
According to the two role congruity theorists, there
21 Devitt, James (2002) “Framing gender on the
campaign trail: Female gubernatorial candidates and
the press.” Journalism & Mass Communication Quarter-
ly 79(2): 445-463.
22 Eagly, Alice H., and Steven J. Karau. (2002)
“Role congruity theory of prejudice toward female lead-
ers.” Psychological Review 109(3), 573.
exist leadership stereotypes, too, which set the expec-
tations of qualities for leaders including competitive,
powerful and decisive among others. The leadership
stereotypes, however, are more “congruent” with those
toward men 23.
At work, women and men are expected to follow
different norms or have different ways of dealing with
situations. For example, men are often viewed to be
strong, decisive and goal-oriented thus deemed to
suite jobs that have more pressures and require quick
decisions. Women, however, with caretaking being
their primary role are considered having soft traits,
thus would suite jobs that are less competitive,
stable and have low pressure but allow them to have
fun and demonstrate their exibility. Not only do such
stereotypes inuence how job selection is gendered
but they also have negative impacts on women’s lead-
ership.
3.4. Vietnamese culture and
changes in gender stereotypes
Traditionally, the Vietnamese culture has been deeply
inuenced by Confucianism, especially in terms of
gender equality. According to Confucian philosophy,
men were expected to ght in wars that happened
throughout the country’s thousands of years of history.
Confucianism has had a certain code of conduct that
women were supposed to follow. Those are the “three
obediences and four virtues” which dictate the
secondary role of women for centuries, requiring them
to be heavily dependent on men 24.
Nevertheless, Vietnam’s political and social transfor-
23 Rosette, Ashleigh Shelby, and Leigh Plunkett
Tost. (2010)”Agentic women and communal leadership:
how role prescriptions confer advantage to top women
leaders.” Journal of Applied Psychology. 95(2), 221.
24 Rowley, C., & Yukongdi, V. (2008). The changing
face of women managers in Asia. Routledge.
20
21
mations in the rst half of the 20th century brought
about tremendous changes in the country, helping
fuel positive progresses in liberating women. Stereo-
types against women have also changed since then
although the inuence of Confucianism has still been
strong in terms of dictating the role of women in family
and in taking care of children. That explains why today
the mass media as well as many women’s organiza-
tions still use such slogans as “Men build a house,
women build a home,” “Women are the champion in
housework,” or “Women keep the re on in the family,”
etc. Besides, there have been new standards for
women set by the society and some national political
organizations, including the Vietnam Women’s Union,
which require women to embrace more
responsibilities.
According to these new standards, “new” women are
expected to not only fulll their homemaking role, but
also to excel at work. Several examples include the
campaigns orchestrated by the Vietnam
Women’s Union, which have propagated such slogans
as “Excellent contributor to the country, great
homemaker” or “Three traits of a good female worker
and three home making responsibilities to be fullled.”
These standards, instead of promoting the represen-
tation of women in the society, have put more pres-
sures on women, setting and reinforcing stereotypes
against them 25.
The stereotypes against women in the formal work-
place mentioned here so far, indeed, have negatively
inuenced how women in general and female leaders
view themselves, as well as how they are viewed and
perceived. For example, the new standards may harm
women’s condence in obtaining leadership positions
because they fear that they might not be able to do
well in both roles: a good leader and a good
25 Viện nghiên cứu phát triển xã h�i (2016) Các
yếu tố xã h�i quyết định bất bình đẳng giới ở Việt Nam.
homemaker. In addition, these stereotypes could
inuence the decisions by voters, various organiza-
tions, as well as families when evaluating women’s
capabilities and priorities between work and family.
In short, institutionally, Vietnam has had a strong legal
framework to empower women, encouraging them
to participate in leadership positions at all levels.
However, gender stereotypes are constraining them in
obtaining these positions.
22
4. Methods
Photo: Do Manh Cuong
23
This research triangulates several methods that are
widely used in mass communication in particular and
social sciences in general. The study is divided into
three major parts including content analysis, sur-
vey and in-depth interviews to respond to the three
main research questions mentioned above. Each of
the methods in this study helped answer one of the
three main questions that are closely related. They
include (1) Is there gender bias against female leaders
in the news? We used content analysis to answer
this question. (2) What are the factors (if any) that
inuence the production of the news with regard
to reporting on female leaders? This question was
answered by surveying. (3) Why and how journalists
are using practices (if any)?, answered using in-depth
interviews. This mixture of methods provided a more
thorough examination and drew connections among
the answers to the above questions. In Vietnam where
media research is scarce, databases of both media
content and journalists’ contact details were not in
place, making it impossible to draw completely random
samples from national sampling frames. We followed
techniques that have been used in the eld of media
studies to ensure that our quantitative samples best
reect the bigger pictures of the news media land-
scape in Vietnam, especially regarding reporting on
information related to female and male leaders.
The rst and most important step is to choose the
media outlets to focus on. We selected media outlets
based on several factors including (1) popularity (e.g.
trafc for news sites, circulation and inuence for
newspapers, and major news broadcast providers),
(2) national audience, (3) public affair news focus,
and (4) VTV1 and VTV24 are the two major national TV
and radio news programs broadcast multiple times
daily. VTV1 is known as the most well established
news show, which is re-aired by the majority of TV
news channels in the country. VTV24 was a news show
launched in 2014. It was expected to be the rst start
of a news channel updated every 30 minutes,
modeling after major news shows in the world includ-
ing CNN and BBC. Similarly, VOV1 is the most popular
radio show focusing on general news. The selection
of online news sites was made using several criteria:
First, the chosen need to be among the top viewed
news sites according to Alexa.com, an online aggre-
gator that ranks websites based on trafc. At the time
we began this project, VnExpress ranked 1st, Dan Tri
ranked 5th and VietNamNet ranked 13th. Second, they
have to be news sites that produce a signicant amount
of content on public affairs news instead of simply
aggregating from other sites. Third, they are among the
most well established news sites with long tradition
in the market. With regard to newspapers, Tuổi Trẻ
and Thanh Niên are known as two most inuential and
highly circulated dailies, which have the ability to set
the agenda for the country’s media.
4.1. Identify gender stereotypes
in news content
This part focuses on analyzing the news content in
major news outlets including several news publica-
tions, online news sites, television and radio news.
The timeframe for data collection is two weeks of
September and one week of October 2015. Ideally,
the timeframe should be two constructed weeks as
designed in previous mass communication research.
However, news content was not archived
systematically for all news outlets. The researchers
therefore selected the two weeks closest to the start
date of this project. A week in October was also
chosen because it included October 20 -- the
Vietnamese Women’s Day. We purposely selected this
additional week, hoping that there would be more con-
tent on women during that week.
Our sample included only news stories about real
events and real people. We excluded all stories that
had unidentied sources or were ctional. As for
television, we selected the evening and morning
news programs, nancial and business news, and other
popular newscasts. We did not choose TV reality game
shows. For VOV1, we selected news programs that
covered economic and law issues news at different time
points during a day. News stories that were repeated in
different shows were excluded from the analysis.
Those that did not include any source with a leadership
position were also discarded from the sample.
After data collection, news sample was ltered again
based on two criteria including (1) in each news piece,
there must be at least one leader source, from junior
role such as at community level to top country leaders,
and (2) these news sources have to be Vietnamese,
living and working in Vietnam. Publications or programs
that did not meet this criterion were ruled out of the
research sample.
The research unit of analysis for printed and online
newspapers was appearances. Regarding television and
radio, each newscast could include a series of news or
news stories. Hence, we selected each news story in a
newscast, but also used appearances or quoted
subjects as the unit of analysis. Based on these
guidelines, a total of 2,168 news articles from
newspapers, television and radio were selected for
analysis, with a total of 3,429 appearances.
Our codebook contained 70 items nested in three large
sections. The rst part of the codebook included
questions on basic information on the news article such
as the type of the story and where it was published. The
second section required coders to make a decision on
the focused topic of the news story such as economic,
education, social services, and culture among
others. Coders also identied which topics sources
were interviewed for in each news story. Based on issue
categorization as proposed by Yonghwan Kim (2012) 26 in
26 Kim, Yonghwan. (2012)”Politics of representa-
tion in the digital media environment: presentation of
the female candidate between news coverage and the
combination with our observation of gender stereotypes
related to occupation in the Vietnamese society, we
divided issues into two categories: The rst were issues
that have often been considered female-identied.
Examples of topics in this type included civil society,
ethnic minority, education, senior population,
environment, healthcare, poverty alleviation, family,
children, social welfare, agriculture, and issues
related to women and gender equality; The second were
male-identied issues. Issues of this type were
business, budget and nance management,
international relations, social security, real estate,
military, science and technology. The items were coded
together with the sources that mentioned each of the
issues. The third part focused on sources and how they
were portrayed in each news story. In order to detect
any differences in the way the news media used male
and female sources, we assessed the presence of
various types of information on sources’ responsibilities
(e.g. family, children, role in family, caretaking role, and
housework); look (e.g. body, hair, clothes, accessories,
etc.), and; experience (e.g. life experience, work
experience, etc.). In terms of housework, we divided it
into two types. One included cooking, sewing and the
other included house repairs, construction, etc.
Two research assistants were trained to code the news
media content. After training the coding began on 220
news stories, which were about 10% of the total
sample selected to test the reliability of the coding
frame. Intercoder reliability was acceptable with average
Scott pi values reaching 0.82. After nishing coding 10%
of the sample, the two research assistants discussed
the differences for reconciliation before starting to code
the rest of the sample. Coding was split with the rate of
70-30 between the coders based on their availability.
Coding items were recorded presence/not presence or
binary with 1 = yes and 0 = no. Thus, Chi-square
website in the 2007 Korean presidential primary.” Asian
Journal of Communication. 22(6), 601-620.
24
statistical tests were utilized most frequently in
analyzing the data.
4.2. Factors inuencing
reporters during news
production process, communica-
tion that may inuence the
production of gender-biased
news when reporting women
leadership
We used a survey and in-depth interviews to
investigate these factors.
The survey was conducted on news reporters,
photographers, editors and broadcast news
producers from VTV1, VTV24, VOV1, VnExpress,
Dân trí, VietNamNet, Thanh niên and Tuổi trẻ. The
selection of editorial staff members only in the
news outlets served two purposes. One, it was to
draw the connection between the content we
analyzed and those who were involved in the
production of such content. Two, without a
national sampling frame of journalists, this is the
optimal choice for class-sampling. Participation
in the survey was voluntary and the researchers
did not ask for the identity of the participants.
The survey questionnaire consisted of 132 items.
For the survey to yield a high respond rate, we
used
various ways to distribute the questionnaires to
eligible participants including paper-based and
online. A total of 461 journalists responded,
yielding a participation rate of 41.98%. Those who
were not
permanent editorial staff members, or skipped
too many questions were excluded. The nal
sample included 430 journalists. Of those, 91
worked for TV; 54 were radio journalists, and the
rest, 285, were from either news sites or
newspapers.
Regarding interviews, we invited 16 reporters to
participate in this study, of which three were from
television, two from radio and six from online and
ve from newspapers.
4.3. Recommendations for
raising awareness and changing
behaviors of journalists with
regard to women’s leadership
This section was composed based on the results
of the analysis of news content, survey,
interviews and relevant literature in combination
with our observation of previous and current proj-
ects on gender equality and communication.
25
26
5.
News content
Analysis
Photo: Le Thanh Hoa
27
5.1. Common issues related to female leaders in the news
Table 1: Appearances of male/female leaders by sectors
Sector Female leader Male leader Total
Government 211 (9.8%) 1,942 (90.2%) 2,153 (100%)
Association 5 (41.7%) 7 (58.3%) 12 (100%)
NGOs 38 (21.8%) 38 (21.8%) 174 (100%)
Business 102 (20.7%) 390 (79.3%) 492 (100%)
Education 78 (25.5%) 229 (74.5%) 307 (100%)
Elected deputy 54 (19.2%) 227 (80.8%) 281 (100%)
Others 3 (33.3%) 6 (67.7%) 9 (100%)
Total 491 (14.3%) 2,938 (85.7%) 3,429 (100%)
Of the 2,168 stories, 477 stories were television news
from VTV1; 404 were produced by VOV1; 494 were from
newspapers; and 793 from the three news websites.
A total of 3,461 leader sources were used in this
sample. However, coders could not identify the sex
of 32 sources via the news content and thus had to
exclude these sources from the analysis. The nal
number of leader sources was 3,429. According to
the results male sources dominated in the news with
a total of 2,938 sources or 85.7%. Meanwhile, female
leaders were interviewed or quoted only 491 times,
accounting for 14.3% of the total number of sources.
In assessing which sectors the sources came from,
we found that of 3,429 leader sources in this sample,
the majority were from the government sector (62.7%).
However, the percentage of female leaders in this
sector was the lowest, with only 9.8% as opposed to
90.2% male leaders. The proportion of female leaders
from all other sectors was higher than the average.
For example, the percentage of female leaders from
associations was 38.5%; education institutions 25.4%;
civil organizations 21.8%; business sector 20.7%; and
elected bodies (19.2%) (See table 1). The Chi-square
test indicated a statistically signicant difference
between male and female leader sources with the
number of male leaders being signicantly higher than
that of female leaders in the sample (χ (N=3,428)=
109.1, p = 0.000).
Female leaders
Male leaders
Table 2: Percentage of male/female leaders in the news related to male-identied issues
Area/issue Female leader Male leader Total Chi-Square
Business 85 (16.4%) 386 (83.6%) 518 (100%) NS
Budget 50 (12.5%) 349 (87.5%) 399 (100%) NS
Prot 51 (12.2%) 368 (87.8%) 419 (100%) NS
Economics 77 (8.0%) 888 (92%) 965 (100%) 44***
Foreign policy 14 (6.9%) 189 (93.1%) 203 (100%) 203 (100%)
Politic, international events 49 (9.9%) 445 (90.1%) 494 (100%) 9.12**
International trade 19 (10.5%) 162 (89.5%) 181 (100%) NS
Management 59 (10.6%) 499 (89.4%) 558 (100%) 7.6**
Tax 27 (15.7%) 145 (84.3%) 145 (84.3%) 145 (84.3%)
Agriculture 67 (11.4%) 67 (11.4%) 586 (100%) 4.8*
Military/Security 78 (6.6%) 1098 (93.4%) 1176 (100%) 86.19***
Real estates 37 (7.6%) 450 (92.4%) 487 (100%) 21.1***
Science & Tech 15 (6.1%) 231 (93.9%) 246 (100%) 14.6***
Total 628 (100%) 5,729 (100%) 5,729 (100%)
* p < 0.05; ** p < 0.01, *** p < 0.001;
28
Statistical results indicated that male leaders were
quoted on male-identied issues much more often
than female leaders were. Male leader sources dom-
inated in most male-identied areas. Of those areas,
about half, including technology & science, military &
security, foreign policy, real estates, micro economic
and politic & international events saw more than 90%
of the sources used in the news being male leaders,
leaving the numbers of female leader sources being
sought out on these issues extremely low. For
instance, for technology & science, only 6.1% of the
sources used in the stories were female leaders. The
statistics were 6.6% for military & security; 6.9% for
issues on foreign policy; 7.6% for real estate; 8% for
micro economic issues; and 9.9% for politics & in-
ternational events. The other half had slightly higher
percentages of female leader sources being used. The
two male-identied issues that had the biggest num-
bers of female leader sources interviewed or quoted
were business (16.4%) and tax (15.7%) (See Table 2).
Overall, for female-identied issues, the proportion of
female leaders were cited and interviewed, or were the
focused persons in the news stories increased
signicantly. The areas/issues that female leaders
appeared the most included children/family (40.8%)
and women’s rights (35.7%). The three issues that
had the least appearance of female leaders were
environment (10.8%), civic & ethnic minority (15.2%)
and social welfare (17.1%). Thus, within 10 most
female-identied issues, seven had the numbers of
female leader sources higher than 20% (See Table 3).
Despites being stereotyped as female-identied, none
of the issues had the numbers of female leader
sources up to 50%, including such areas as family/
children or women’s rights.
29
Table 3: Percentage of male/female leaders in the news related to female-identied issues
Areas/issues Female Leader - A Male leader - A Total Chi-Square
Civic, minority group 69 (15.2%) 386 (84.8%) 455 (100%) NS
Old people 7 (25%) 7 (25%) 28 (100%) NS
Education 135 (21.4%) 497 (79.6%) 497 (79.6%) 31.3***
Environment 73 (10.8%) 606 (89.2%) 679 (100%) 8.79**(-)
Health 143 (25.9%) 409 (74.1%) 552 (100%) 71.99***
Poverty reduction 67 (23.0%) 224 (77%) 291 (100%) 20.93***
Children/family 85 (40.8%) 123 (49.2%) 208 (100%) 127.2***
Social welfares 83 (17.1%) 403 (82.9%) 486 (100%) 3.97*
Women rights 15 (35.7%) 27 (64.3%) 42 (100%) 15.87***
Humanitarian 48 (25.7%) 139 (74.3%) 187 (100%) 20.77***
Total – B 725 (20.4%) 2,835 (79.6%) 3,560 (100%)
* p < 0.05; ** p < 0.01, *** p < 0.001; (-) The proportion of male leader appeared in news about environment in the
total number of male appeared on news articles, or A/B, was higher than the proportion of female.
Conclusions:
The frequencies of female leaders sourced in the news
were far lower than those of male leaders, especially in
the government sector. This
demonstrates that female leaders are
disappointingly under-represented in the news despite
their contribution and participation in the workforce.
Female leaders’ invisibility in news content is not only
an indication that their voices and perspectives are
not adequately presented but it may also send mes-
sages to audiences as consumers of the news that
female leaders do not usually have the authority or do
not qualify to be in positions with authority to be in the
media spotlight.
Female leader sources were sought out more
often for news stories on female-identied issues
such as children/family; women’s rights; health;
poverty reduction, or; elder people. They were almost
non-present in areas/issues that were often
weighted more heavily in the government’s
administration including military/security; real estates;
micro economic; international relations, science and
technologies etc. Male leader sources dominated the
news in every area including those that are often seen
as most suitable for women in general such as wom-
en’s rights or children/family. These ndings show that
besides under-representing female leaders, the news
media also perpetuate gender stereotypes against
them by setting the boundary of work areas that are
supposedly more suitable to their femininity.
5.2. Gender biased details in
news stories related to women
leaders
Although the number of news stories that provided
additional details on how these leader sources look was
limited, it showed a statistically signicant difference in
how the portrayal of leaders is gendered. Specically,
female leaders tend to receive much more attention
from the news media with regard to their appearance.
Of the 2,938 male leader sources, journalists reported
on how they looked on only 31 cases (1.06%). That
rate was 5.7% for female leader sources with 28 out
of a total 491 female leader sources having details on
their appearance being mentioned in the news. Of the
30 leaders whose information on house chores was
revealed in the news, 27 were women. Only three were
men.
Similarly, 41 news stories provided details about leader
sources’ children, of those 20 (4%) were female and 21
(0.7%) were male. Fifty-one news stories provided
information on leader sources’ parents, with 19
mentioning female leaders’ parents and 32 mentioning
male leaders’ parents. News stories reported
information on family tasks associated with female
leaders more often than they did with male leaders. For
instance, of the 23 leader sources being reported on
how they took care of their family members, 17 were
female and six were male.
It is important to note that the statistical results
showed almost equivalent numbers of male and
female leader sources having their personal
information revealed in the news articles. However,
calculations of these statistics over the total numbers
of sources of both genders demonstrated
disproportionate ratios between them, with female
leader sources receiving much more attention from
the news media than their male counterparts with
regard to information on family, care taking roles, and
appearance. The Chi-square test results also indicated
statistically signicant differences of media portrayals
of male and female leader sources in this aspect (See
Table 4).
The result of the qualitative data also showed a similar
tendency. The majority of news stories focused on
providing additional information associated with
female leaders more frequently than for male leaders.
For example, a news article published on VietNamNet
described a pilot with the title: “A female pilot who
is more beautiful than a hot girl.” The article provided
specic details about the appearance of this pilot
although the most important news value was that she
was the rst ever female pilot of Vietnam Airlines.
30
“In 2011, the girl who is 1.7 meters tall, with
beautiful and fair skin, ofcially joined
Vietnam Airlines. She has been receiving training
to be a pilot, the rst ever female pilot in Viet-
nam.”
Article: Female pilot who is more
beautiful than a hot girl - VietNamNet
31
However, when asked about her two children, “the one hundred kilogram
woman” seemed very modest and did not want to say much: “Perhaps I am also
inuenced by the way my parents
educated and raised me and my siblings. They always set goals for their chil-
dren to try hard, although I know that might have put some pressure on the us.
I believe setting good goals to pursue will make us stronger... I set the goals for
my kids but I also
nurture their dream, creating good conditions for them to reach their goals....”
.....
“Being a movie director is a tough job … It can be even harder for female direc-
tors …So, when my daughter, Ly Na, chose to pursue her career in this area,
honestly I did not want her to but we knew that she was passionate about it, so
we respected her decision … And we were very happy when Ly Na told us that
she had chosen the Vietnam War topic for her master’s thesis … It reminded me
of the times I took her to visit the B52 Victory Museum in Hanoi, of the times my
family visited the Vietnam Revolutionary
Museum, and of the television shows on the country’s grand
history we watched together. Using real life examples to teach children does
sound clichéd, but it really works... I am happy because my daughter has grown
up learning about life through those examples … ” Tạ Bích Loan said.
Article: The story about “A hundred kilogram woman “
– Dân trí (Taken from Tiền Phong)
For female leaders who were married, the
information on how they raise their children was
provided in great detail, despite the fact that it was
not the focus of the stories. For example, an article
published in Dân trí about Ta Bich Loan, a well-known
television show host who is also the managing editor
of VTV6 channel, began with her interviewing skills,
which, as the author claimed, were a contributing
factor to her success as a journalist. The article then
moved on to describe the openness and the
innocence, truthfulness, and wisdom of this famous
MC.” However, the rest of the article focused
extensively on how Loan raised her daughter and
how she balanced her work and family life.
A popular theme found in the news stories about
female leaders was that reporters would provide
information about their role in the family. Female
leaders were described as having a busy life with
much pressure. However, they would always try to
successfully complete their work without neglecting
their traditional homemaking role. News stories also
emphasized another important aspect of these female
leaders’ success, which is: All of them had received
generous support from their husbands, without which
it would not have been possible for them to achieve
the reported accomplishments.
Lieutenant Major Chu Thị Hoa said: “In general, the challenges a police ofcer faces ghting drug trafcking
are tremendous. In many cases, it is the matter of life or death. For women, such pressure doubles.
Apart from completing our work responsibilities, we also have family to worry about and our roles as a mother
and a wife to fulll. Many times I had planned to cook a good dinner for the kids, pick them up from school,
but unexpected assignments arrived and I had to go on, playing undercover roles to unveil drug trafcking
rings together with my colleagues.
Article: Female police chief scaring drug dealers – Dân trí
“When asked about challenges, both Chôm and Mận said that they faced countless difculties. ‘With the
encouragement from the Party and the District, with the trust of other members and especially the
understanding and support from our husbands, no matter how hard it was we would always overcome.’”
Article: Women’s Union Leader under 20 years old– Dân trí
32
33
conclusions:
When writing about female leaders, journalists often
described them in the context of their traditional roles,
such as taking care of family, children or doing house
chores. Although the number of news stories about
male leaders is larger, very few provided additional
information about their private lives.
The news media also portrayed the “excellence” of
female leaders based on their career success. However,
such “excellence” is not separated from their traditional
roles, without which it seems hard for them to be “
excellent” but rather “ abnormal.” At the same time, they
do not appear to be independent because their success
depends on the “understanding and support” from their
husbands and others. With such a depiction of female
leaders, the news media in general have contributed
to creating and perpetuating stereotypes of what a
successful woman should look like in the contemporary
Vietnamese society. That is: Only those female leaders
who can handle their dual roles and responsibilities
both in families as traditional women and in the
workplace as modern women are considered ideal.
Photo: Le Thanh Hoa
6. JOURNALISTS’
PERCEPTION AND
FACTORS INFLUENCING
GATEKEEPING PROCESS
Photo: Do Manh Cuong
34
6.1. Factors deriving from
environment, workplace and
society
6.1.1 Demographic information
As stated above, our nal analysis sample consisted
of answers from 430 journalists. Of those, 248 were
female (57.7%%) and 172 male (40%). Ten journalists
(2.3%) chose not to reveal their genders. The majority
of journalists (54.2%) were within the age range of
26 to 35. About one third of journalists (29.5%) were
from 36 to 45 years old. A little more than 1/10 of the
journalists (11.6%) were between 18 and 25. Very few
of the participants were between 46-55 (3.3%), 56-65
(0.9%), or over 65 (0.5%). More than half of the
journalists (63%) were reporters. About 1/3 were
editors or broadcast news producers (35.3%). Only
seven (1.6%) were photographers. The majority (66.3%)
of the journalists worked at newspapers or news sites.
Ninety-one (21.2%) were TV journalists. Fifty-four
journalists were from VOV1 (12.6%). About one third
of the journalists (32.3%) had been in the journalism
industry for between 6-10 years. Almost one-fth
(19.8%) had 3-5 years of professional journalism
experience. Another close-to-one fth (19.3%) had
worked for between 11 – 15 years in the news industry.
A smaller percentage (17.2%) of journalists were new
to the profession with fewer than two years of
experience. The rest (11.4%) had been in journalism
for over 15 years.
6.1.2. Journalists’ opinion of gender inequality
More than half of the journalists (53.2%) agreed that in
the Vietnamese society discrimination against women
still exists at a relatively high degree. More than one
third of the participants (34.2%) said that there is only
a “small amount” of gender discrimination. Nearly
one-tenth (8.8%) stated that there is a great deal of
gender inequality. Only 3.8% journalists thought that
gender inequality was presently non-existent in the
society.
The majority of participants (72.5%) suggested that
Vietnam needs to continue improving its gender
equality situation. However, the other 28.5% thought
that Vietnam “has made signicant changes to create
more equal opportunities for men and women in the
workplace.”
6.1.3. Journalists’ opinion of gender equality in the
workplace and family
We examined the participants’ opinion of gender
equality in the workplace and in families by asking
them to rate their responsibility for their families and in
their occupations as well as their satisfaction toward
personal lives and work. The results indicated that
generally speaking, journalists do not feel
overwhelmed with their work (M = 2.94/5; SD = 0.89)
and did not think they had to sacrice their work
to take care of families (M = 2.83/5; SD = 0.83). The
majority of the journalists (77.6%) felt happy with their
current jobs (M = 3.89/5; SD = 0.77). Likewise, most of
them (79.1%) were satised with their personal lives (M
= 3.87/5; SD = 0.76).
We used two questions on equal opportunities for
men and women to ask about the participants’ work
environment. The majority of the journalists agreed
that both men and women had the opportunity to be
successful in journalism (M = 4.2/5; SD = 0.87) with
90.3% journalists selecting “agree” or “strongly agree.
Likewise, 86% of journalists (M = 4.08/5; SD = 0.88)
either “agree” or “strongly agree” that “women and
men both have the opportunity to be successful in
their leadership roles in media industry.
The majority of the journalists agreed that both men
and women are good for a reporter and editor job. The
only difference was found with regard to being a pho-
35
tographer. Most journalists (65.5%) thought men have
better photography skills, thus would better qualify for
the job as a photographer than women would.
When asked about the role of men and women in their
family, most journalists agreed that both men and
women should share equal responsibilities for taking
care of their children (90.6%, M = 4.3/5, SD = 0.90).
However, gender bias was clearly seen in how men’s
and women’s work and family responsibilities should
be prioritized. Only 27% participants agreed that “being
successful in my career is a priority for women” and
67.4% of participants agreed that women should focus
on taking care of their families. Meanwhile, 66.9% of
participants agreed that career success is the most
important goal for men.
6.1.4. Evaluation of “behavior” on gender equality
We used four items to examine the gender role in family
setting, such as in their own
families whether men or
women would take the major
role in generating income,
doing household chores,
taking care of children,
and whether or not career
success is more important to
men and women. The items
were measured using a
ve-point Likert scale ranging
from (1) “strongly disagree” to
(5) “strongly agree.” Results
indicated that the majority
of participants’ families still
maintained the traditional gender-based role division.
That is, women take care of children (M = 3.47/5, SD =
0.94) with 61.6% of participants selecting “agree” or
strongly agree,” while only 20.6% of participants
selected “disagree” or “strongly disagree”; More than
half of the journalists (59.5%) “agreed” or “strongly
agreed” that women did most of the housework in their
families (M = 3.41/5; SD = 0.94); Another 48.5% of the
participants selected “agree” or “strongly agree” to
indicate that in their families men were the
breadwinners (M = 3.28/5; SD = 0.92); 42% of the
participants come from families where the men’s
careers were seen as more important than women’s
(M = 3.21/5; SD = 0.93).
But as shown in our qualitative analysis, in reality, the
distribution of tasks in families was even more
burdensome for women. According to the results, all
participants revealed that in their families, women
take care of the majority of housework and look after
children besides their busy full-time work schedules.
Some female journalists had to make decisions on
whether they should focus on work or family when
promotion opportunities arrived. Often, they prioritized
their family. The participants in this study did recognize
“inequality” in the way family and work responsibilities
are divided. However, they
tended to justify the unequal
division by attributing the
reason to how the society
is structured. For example,
a female journalist, from an
online newspaper said “that
is the way the society goes.”
Another female reporter
from VTV said, “we cannot
do anything to change that”
(Female journalist, VTV).
Some journalists thought
that the gender-based role
designation pattern between men and women was
“natural” because women are better at housework.
Men were expected to do some housework, but often
those are the tasks that are not daily such as replacing
light bulbs, xing appliances, etc. Many of these tasks
are often done by an outside specialist. According to a
“It is highly noticeable that the proportion
of women being responsible for housework
was considerably high with 61.6% looking
after children and 59.5% taking care of
house chores. However, the role of men in
society – making money (48.5%) or
developing a career (42%) was not
equally important. This result indicated
that while women are still responsible for
most housework, they have also taken on
more responsibilities for working outside
of the house, developing a career as well
as earning money for their family nance.”
36
37
female journalist from an online news site, the
housework division in her family is based on the
principle that “whoever is good at one thing will be
responsible for it.” She was good at taking care of the
children and cooking, so she is responsible for these
tasks. Women are often seen as “better” than men
at doing certain tasks. The quantitative result also
showed a similar result with 71.8% of the participants
believed that women were better than men in raising
and caring for children.
6.1.5. Differences in male and female
participants’ perception of family and work
We compared male and female journalists’
perception of family and work. Findings showed
signicant differences in several aspects: Male
journalists were more likely to think that women are
better caretakers of children than men (χ = 11.12,
p < 0.05); Men should be breadwinners in the family
and that women’s income should only be supplemental
(χ = 15.02, p < 0.01), and; Female journalists were more
likely to be happier than their male colleagues in their
journalism jobs (χ = 13.66, p < 0.01). Apart from these
differences, both male and female journalists shared
similar perception on other issues related to
gender equality at home or at work.
It was clear that journalists do perceive that men and
women should be treated equally both at home and at
work. However, how to translate such knowledge and
perception into reality seems problematic. In fact,
gender stereotypes against women are still
inuencing journalists’ everyday life. For instance, in
most journalists’ families, women are still responsible
for most of the work at home including house chores,
taking care of the family and looking after children.
Men have limited responsibilities for housework. Men
do not have the opportunity to do or do not want to do
housework. Thus, the image of men taking on
housework tasks has never been the norm. Gender
stereotypes manifested through labor division at home
have been normalized, making it harder for most
members of the society in general and journalists in
particular to recognize the “problems”, let alone take
action to change them.
“In my family, although my husband and I both work full time, when our kids are sick I would
naturally be the one to ask for work leave or to look for alternative solutions. And my husband does
not have to worry about it at all.”
(Female journalist, VOV)
“For tasks such as cooking, going to the market or looking after the children, it is clear that
women are better than men. Therefore, my wife has been taking care of these tasks ever since our
marriage. Not that we sit and talk about that work division, it just happens
naturally as it does in all other families.”
(Male journalist, VTV)
“I only want to do good enough in my current career. To try to aim high in my career is really
challenging. My division is very busy and if I am promoted to be the chief of the section, it is going
to be very complicated because I will have to attend many meetings, travel and handle other
relationship building tasks. I am a family women and I think I need to spend my time on my family.”
(Female journalist, print newspaper)
6.2. Journalists’ attitude to-
ward male and female leaders
6.2.1. Gender bias related to the quality of male and
female leaders
Twenty statements based on the role congruity theory
by Eagly and Karau (2002) on gender stereotypes were
used in the questionnaire. These items focused on
both men and women’s leadership traits leaders of
both gender, including four agentic traits (e.g.
condence, capability, competitiveness,
determination and powerfulness) and four communal
traits (e.g. friendliness, exibility, delicate,
considerate and sympathetic). We used a 5-point
Likert scale ranging from (1) “not very – and the trait
– such as “condent”” to (5) “very – and the trait –
condent”.” As shown in Table 4, journalists tend to
perceive that male leaders possess more agentic traits
than female leaders, with the average mean ranging
from 4.04 to 4.10 for male leaders and 3.70 to 3.90 for
female leaders. On the contrary, journalists also viewed
female leaders with stronger communal traits than
male leaders. The means of the combined communal
traits ranged from 3.78 to 3.97 for female leaders and
3.38 – 3.61 for male leaders. Results from T- tests
conrmed that the differences were statistically
signicant.
Table 4. Journalists’ perception of agentic and communal traits of male and female leaders
Quality Female leader
(M/SD)
Male leader
(M/SD)
T-value P
Self condence 3.76(0.76) 4.06 (0.74) -9.08 .000
Capability 3.89 (0.56) 4.05 (0.58) -6.13 .000
Competitiveness 3.72(0.72) 4.05 (0.63) -8.27 .000
Decisiveness 3.70 (0.70) 4.09 (0.73) -11.25 .000
Powerfulness 3.75 (0.69) 4.01 (0.72) -7.12 .000
Friendliness 3.82 (0.69) 3.60 (0.66) 5.90 .000
Thoughtfulness 3.95 (0.70) 3.47 (0.63) 14.21 .000
Understanding 3.77 (0.72) 3.37 (0.63) 10.51 .000
Dedication 3.87 (0.71) 3.49 (0.69) 10.93 .000
Sympathy 3.87 (0.71) 3.49 (0.62) 7.97 .000
We assessed the relationships between journalists’
demographics including age, gender, length of time in
the news media industry, family environment factors
and their perception of gender stereotypes. In
examining journalists’ family inuence, we created a
new variable based on four statements about
responsibility division between men and women in
journalists’ families. Journalists were asked to rate
whether in their family between men or women, who
were responsible for “taking care of children,”
38
“breadwinning,” “doing housework more often than
men,” and “whose career is more important.” Before
combining these variables, we calculated the inter-
national consistency using Cronbach’s Alpha of the
variables, which showed an acceptable level of 0.69
between these four items. We also combined four
variables on agentic traits for male and female leaders
and four variables on communal traits for male and
female leaders. Again, Cronbach’s Alpha coefcients
ranging from 0.75 to 0.82 demonstrated a strong
internal consistency among these variables.
Results from regression tests indicated that journalists
in family that maintains the traditional gender role are
more likely to hold gender stereotypes against women.
For these journalists, male leaders are more
powerful, decisive, competitive, capable and condent
(β = 0.14 p < 0.01). In addition, journalists’ gender also
inuenced their perception of female leaders’ skills and
qualities. Specically, female journalists tend to view
such communal traits as exibility, sympathy,
friendliness, thoughtfulness and delication were
“naturally female” (β = 0.11 p < 0.05).Results from our
qualitative analysis using in-depth interview data
provided further evidence on journalists’ gender
stereotypes against female leaders. Many of our
interviewees did not see communal traits as women’s
strength. Instead, these traits lead to doubts about
female leadership skills among those journalists. Some
interpreted them as “afraid of being
confrontational,” “lack of self-condence” (Female
editor, online newspaper), or “do not want to tackle
difcult tasks” (Female reporter, online newspaper).
Journalists say having to take care of their husbands
and their families and to deal with petty stuff hinders
female leaders’ ability to think big. Those who can
overcome those challenges have to act like men or
possess such “male” qualities as decisive (Male,
reporter, TV news), and thus lose their femininity. In
general, physical differences, the responsibilities
assigned to them, the caretaking role in their families
can constrain women to develop their professional ca-
reer, making them unt for leadership positions, espe-
cially as compared to men. Even if they have obtained
leadership positions, according to many journalists,
these barriers become hindrances, making it harder for
them to be “as successful as their male counterparts.”
Gender stereotypes inuence how journalists evaluate
leadership qualities of both men and women. Women
are seen by most journalists as having “too many” dis-
advantages to be good leaders, be it responsibilities
that they are expected to have or the “traits” they are
naturally born with. Male are in strikingly more
advantageous positions. They have fewer “other”
responsibilities. Their gender naturally grants them
traits that are congruent with the attributes essential
to a good leader.
6.2.2. Gender stereotypes and news sources
Interacting with news sources is an integral part of
journalists’ professional practices. Thus, we asked our
participants for their opinion about male and female
news sources. Although we did not mention specically
whether the news source was a male or female leader,
previous research has shown that journalists prefer to
quote or interview people in leadership positions 27.
Sixteen statements were included in the
questionnaire to examine participants’ views on and
27 Berkowitz, D., & Beach, D. W. (1993). News
sources and news context: The effect of routine news,
conict and proximity. Journalism & Mass Communica-
tion Quarterly, 70(1), 4-12.
39
“Clearly the family environment plays an import-
ant role in journalists’ gender stereotypes. Living
in families where responsibilities are divided based
on the traditional gender role negatively inuences
journalists’ perception of women’s leadership.”
perception of news sources. The statements focused
on skills and qualities that are seen as important to
news sources such as being honest, organized and
efcient, knowledgeable, decisive, intelligent,
compassionate, powerful and accessible. Results
showed that male sources were rated higher than
female sources in certain qualities such as being
intelligent, decisive, knowledgeable, organized,
efcient, and powerful. Female sources were seen as
more honest and compassionate. There was no
difference between the male and female leader
sources in terms of accessibility.
Table 5. Journalists’ opinion toward male and female news sources
Quality Female new
source (M/SD)
Male news
source (M/SD)
T-value P
Intelligent 2.35 (0.70) 2.51 (0.89) -3.89 .000
Clear decision 2.31 (0.68) 2.71 (1.00) -9.26 .000
Knowlegeable 2.35 (0.69) 2.52 (0.90) -4.24 .000
Organized & efcient 2.37 (0.72) 2.66 (0.96) -6.48 .000
Powerful 2.30 (0.67) 2.53 (0.92) -5.28 .000
Accessible 2.72 (0.94) 2.67 (0.93) 0.92 .360
Compassionate 2.94 (1.03) 2.35 (0.74) 10.61 .000
Honest 2.43 (0.76) 2.33 (0.75) 2.71 .007
We also looked at whether there is any difference in
how journalists evaluate skills and qualities of male
and female news sources. Results indicated no
difference in journalists’ perception of skills and
qualities between male and female sources.
In the next step, we examined journalists’ gender
stereotypes through investigating their perception of
news sources. Specically, we asked our participants
for their opinions on which areas/issues they think are
suitable for male and/or female news sources. As seen
in table 5, male news sources were viewed as more
qualied to be news sources in such areas as
economy, politics, military and security, science and
technologies. Meanwhile, participants perceived that
women would be more suitable to be news sources for
such areas/issues as healthcare, education as well as
children and family. There was no statistically
signicant difference in which gender would t better
as a news source on agriculture.
Regression tests were adopted to determine the
relationships between participants’ gender
stereotypes in perceiving which areas men and women
would t to be news sources and journalists’
demographic variables including age, gender, length of
time working in the journalism industry and family
situation. We combined the ve variables on ve
male-identied areas/issues including economic; politic;
military/security; science, and sport. Similarly, four vari-
40
ables on female-identied areas/issues including
agriculture; healthcare, education; and family were
also merged. Reliability tests showed acceptable
internal consistency levels with Cronbach’s Alpha
ranging from 0.79 to 0.86.
Regression test results indicated that family and
length of time in the media industry were the two
statistically signicant predictors of journalists’
stereotypical attitudes in terms of gendering areas
and issues for news sources. Specically, journalists
who lived in families with traditional gender roles are
more likely to assign areas/issues to news sources
based on their gender: Men are considered better news
sources for male-identied areas/issues (β = 0.25, p <
0.001), and women are considered better news sources
for female-identied areas/issues (β = 0.22, p < 0.001).
Journalists with a shorter time in the media industry are
more likely to hold gender stereotypes: men are more
qualied to be news sources for male-identied issues
β = -0.17, p < 0.05, and women more suitable for
female identied areas/issues β = -0.14, p < 0.05.
6.2.3. What information about male and female leaders
is important to journalists?
Statistical analyses showed that gender stereotypes
inuence journalists’ perceived importance of personal
Table 6. Journalists’ view on areas/issues suitable for men and women to be news sources
Quality Female new
source (M/SD)
Male news
source (M/SD)
T-value P
Economics 2.54 (0.71) 3.11 (0.99) -10.61 .000
Politics 2.52 (0.70) 3.43 (0.96) -16.59 .000
Military, security 2.35 (0.63) 3.48 (0.95) -16.59 .000
Science 2.52 (0.69) 3.10 (0.98) -10.51 .000
Sport 2.29 (0.69) 3.62 (0.97) -21.53 .000
Agriculture 2.70 (0.76) 2.79 (0.86) 1.70 0.09
Health care 3.47 (0.92) 2.79 (0.86) 20.46 .000
Education 3.31 (0.88) 2.48 (0.70) 16.38 .000
Family 3.61 (0.91) 2.31 (0.68) 16.38 .000
In general, most journalists have stereotypes
against women. In practicing journalism, many
show stereotypical perception of and attitude
toward female news sources. Journalists who
live in family with traditional gender role divi-
sion tend to have stronger stereotypical per-
ception of and attitudes toward female news
sources. How long a journalist has worked in
the industry had positive inuence on his/
her perception of and attitudes toward female
news sources.
41
information when reporting on male and female
leaders. Specically, such details as education,
working experience were important for both male
and female leaders. However,
information about family, child care, or physical
appearance was seen as more important for reporting
on female leaders than it was for male leaders (See
Table 7).
Table 7. Journalists’ views on the importance of personal details of male and female leaders
Personal details/Level of
importance
Female leader (M/SD) Male leader (M/SD) T-value P
Education 3.51 (0.86) 3.53 (0.82) -0.63 0.53
Working experience 3.83 (0.69) 3.85 (0.69) -2.04 0.04
Family 3.05 (0.97) 2.82 (0.88) 6.38 .000
Child care 3.07 (0.98) 2.83 (0.86) 2.83 (0.86) .000
Physical appearance 3.10 (0.89) 2.95 (0.82) 5.09 .000
42
As shown in Table 7, statistical analyses of the survey
data conrmed the ndings of the content analysis,
helping explain why gender stereotypes are present in
the news. Analyses using qualitative data from in-depth
interviews further reinforced the ndings. The most
interviewees applied different working standards
toward female leaders. For example, most journalists
we interviewed said that female leaders’ physical
appearance is important because “at the end of the
day, they are women” and that “they need to look good
when their images are published” (Male reporter, print
newspaper). The inclusion of personal details about
female leaders’ family and children in news stories
makes the leaders look “more female and more real”
(Female and male reporters, online newspaper).
6.3. Factors inuencing news
production
In the previous sections, we focused on examining
factors related to journalists’ perception, knowledge
and other factors such as their family, social and
working environments. In this section, we use the
model namely hierarchy of inuences by
Shoemaker and Reese 1 to determine external factors
that inuence journalists. We used survey and
in-depth interviews to answer our questions. The focus
is on the following factors: audience; newsroom,
channel; advertising; occupational habit; new source;
government inuence; and career ideals. Participants
were asked to rate their agreement on eight ve-point
scale statements with (1) being “strongly disagree
and (5) being “strongly agree.” Results showed that
audiences had the strongest inuence on journalists
in the news production process (M = 4.22/5; SD = 0.73).
The factor that had the least inuence on journalists
was “advertising” (M = 2.90/5; SD = 1.34) (See table 8).
According to our qualitative analyses, most journalists
revealed that they had used different strategies when
reporting on female leaders from what they did on male
leaders to attract audience attention.
28 Shoemaker PJ and Reese SD (1996) Medi-
ating the Message. New York: Longman.
Table 8. Factors inuencing news production
Factors inuencing news production (M/SD)
Information needed for audience/readers 4.19 (0.73)
Helpful information 4.09 (0.78)
News sources 3.67 (0.76)
Editors and producers’ preferences 3.69 (0.83)
Publication’s preference/style 3.63 (0.79)
Journalists’ role perception 3.49 (0.95)
Government’s reaction 3.38 (0.86)
Advertisers 2.83 (0.90)
43
The second reason for why they used different
strategies for portraying male and female leaders was
that they wanted to show “what’s special in each of
the two genders,” “the excellence of female leaders”
(Female editor, online newspaper), and to “set an
ideal image of women following the popular slogan
‘women need to be great at both work and home’”
(Male editor, newspaper). A few journalists said they
wanted to highlight the uniqueness of female leaders
or the contradictory images of female leaders strong
but delicate, tough but also understanding to capture
audiences’ curiosity. She argued, “To be leaders, wom-
en need to be powerful and assertive than usual. But
that’s at work. So we wanted to see how delicate they
are at home; Male leaders are often cold, so we wanted
to see what they are like when they are with beautiful
women” (Female reporter, online newspaper).
However, when asked about how they know whether
the audience is attracted to the stereotypical con-
tent they produce, journalists say they do not have
clear evidence of what the audience prefers. They
base their judgement subjectively on questioning
themselves “What I would want to know if I were the
audience” (Female reporter, VTV), or “I selected the
details I think were suitable to the culture and life of
the audience” (Female reporter, online newspaper).
However, as shown in previous literature, such judge-
ment is based on the shared culture in the society. In
that culture, traditional role assignments, though still
maintained, have been “updated” with new aspects to
serve the propaganda purposes of some organizations
and institutions. The images of women propagated in
new forms have contributed to the birth of new gender
stereotypes, erecting higher cultural barriers against
women and preventing them from obtaining leadership
positions in their work and in society.
One of the interviewees, a female journalist, said she
had always tried to avoid reporting the news that is
stereotypical against female leaders. She admitted
that the female leaders she had interviewed face far
more challenges than their male counterparts do.
However, she refused to include any stereotypical
content in her articles just to get audience attention.
The journalist showed a great disappointment in the
fact that stereotypical content is prevalent, and
that journalists are willing to produce such news to
attract a better viewership” (Female reporter, online
newspaper). In short, three important factors that
inuence the production process of stereotypical news
against female leaders include the audience, journal-
ists’ working and living environments, and the news
selection routines.
Another important point was that a number of
journalists had attended training courses on gender,
however when reporting on female leaders, news
workers’ practices still show gender stereotypes
including focusing on information on these leaders’
families, appearance, and their caregiving roles.
Justifying for such practices, the journalists we
interviewed gave several reasons. For example,
a female reporter said, “the training course was carried
out a long time ago and I do not remember.” According
to another female editor, she is always on tight
deadlines, so she does not have enough time to pay
attention to whether or not her stories are
stereotypical. This shows journalists’ gendering
practices happen unintentionally. Most of the
journalists we interviewed were not able to recognize
that the content they produce have gender
stereotypes in it.
“I think when we begin a new show we need to pay a great deal of attention to what the audience prefers. If I
were an audience watching a show about a female leader, I’d have such questions as “how is that woman like
when she is at home?” or “what does she do to balance her role at work and at home?” Thus, I have reported this
kind of information to satisfy the need of my audience for the information. Over time, this routine has become
natural in the way I perceive of what I need to do when reporting on female leaders. Perhaps, because of that the
content I produce is inuenced by our traditional culture on
gender.
(Female reporter, VTV)
“Although the press praises their career success, we should not forget that readers would care about their
personal lives. Why? Because female leaders are a minority. The majority of people will think that they have to
sacrice something for their work success. And these sacrices may have fueled a conict between people
involved, which in turn would provoke readers’ curiosity…”
(Female editor, Newspaper)
“I think they (journalists) still want to promote the images of ‘women being great at both work and home’ which
have turned into an ideal model for women. When doing that, ournalists show they have predetermined idea of
using different reporting strategies on male and female leaders. I think most journalists do this. The audience
also expects them to do that. They’d have questions like, ‘Yes, she’s successful but what about her family?’”
The description of ‘Women being great at both work and home’ is so ingrained in our minds. That expectation of
women comes from both their family and the society. For example, how a woman looks should always be
prioritized and paid attention to no matter how busy she is with work and family. Male leaders are not expected
to be delicate.”
(Male reporter, newspaper)
44
45
7. CONCLUSIONS &
RECOMMENDATIONS
Photo: Do Manh Cuong
7.1. Journalists’ solutions
A major objective of this research project is to nd
out what solutions would help improve the situa-
tion of news media’s stereotypical content against
female leaders through inuencing journalists. In our
in-depth interviews, we asked journalists what they
think would help them produce stereotype-free
content. The nal goal is to change the public’s
stereotypical perception against female leaders,
which would help increase women’s participation
in the policymaking process at multiple levels and
areas.
In general, most journalists agreed that there are still
many challenges to overcome for changes to happen
with regard to gender stereotypes against female
leaders. Those include limited knowledge of gender
issue as well as journalists’ practices and selection of
information to include in news stories. These practic-
es have been professionally routinized (Editor, news-
paper) to become a formula for portraying female
leaders.
Solutions that journalists recommended include (1)
increasing knowledge of gender equality through
longer training courses that provide relevant infor-
mation to journalism practices; (2) gender equality
content needs to be incorporated into codes of
conduct of each news organization to ensure that
they will provide guidelines to news workers in their
everyday work; and (3) the monitoring and supervisory
role of social organizations working in this area needs
to be stepped up. These organizations need to react
promptly to news publications on stereotypical con-
tent against female leaders being. These reactions, if
presented properly, would raise awareness of gender
equality among journalists, building a mechanism
46
Photo: Le Thanh Hoa
47
through which news workers can be held accountable
for stereotypical content against female leaders they
produce.
The above-mentioned recommendations are aligned
with various projects in this area. For example, Oxfam,
CSAGA and UNDP have provided training courses on
gender equality to journalists. Besides, Oxfam and
CSAGA, in partnership with the Ministry of Information
and Communications, have developed guidelines for
journalists with regard to gender equality. However, the
fact that journalists, including those who participated
in previous training courses, have limited knowledge
of gender stereotypes against female leaders shows
a great need for the training courses to be reviewed,
together with ongoing efforts to mainstream gender
equality guidelines into news organizations’ codes of
conduct.
7.2. Conclusions
This study is set out to answer three major research
questions: (1) Are there stereotypes against female
leadership in the news? (2) If there are stereotypical
news content against female leadership, then what
factors are inuencing how such a type of news in its
production process? and (3) Through analyzing
qualitative data from in-depth interviews with
journalists and reviewing previous literature as well as
together with our own observation, the research team
provides recommendations for measures to make news
content gender stereotype-free.
Are there stereotypes against female
leadership in the news? Gender stereo-
types against female leaders were found
to be present in the way female leaders
are portrayed or not portrayed. Specical-
ly, news reports are more likely to include
information about women’s personal lives.
Journalists frame female leaders’ images
in association with double standards and
additional responsibilities including high-
lighting their caregiving roles and appear-
ance. Gender stereotypes are also found in
how issues/areas that journalists look for
news sources are assigned to a specic
gender. It is important to note that journal-
ists do not intentionally pick male leaders
to be their news sources for issues that are
male-identied. In reality, female leaders
in those areas may just be scarce, making
it harder for journalism sourcing in terms
of gender stereotypes. If this is the case, it
points to a need for greater gender equality
at the decision-making level.
Which factors inuence journalists shaping
the production process of news content
that is heavil stereotyped against female
leaders? Findings of this research show the
most inuential factor is journalists’ family
environment. Those who live in families
which maintain traditional gender role
divisions tend to have biased views against
female leaders. They tend to evaluate men’s
leadership skills and traits as more agentic,
and thus more congruent with essential
skills and qualities of good leaders.
Living in traditional gender role divisions
leads to journalists’ normalization of
gender stereotypes, inuencing their
ability to become gender-sensitive. Their
stereotypical perception of roles, skills
and traits of male and female leaders is
largely based on their personal experience
in everyday life. Thus, they produce news
content without being able to detect how
gender stereotypical it is.
The second most inuential factor is
audience. According to our analyses, jour-
nalists say they select gender-stereotypical
details when reporting on female leaders
because they want to attract audience
attention, although they do not have clear
evidence of what information on female
leaders their audiences would prefer. Only
those who work for online news sites can
use reader metrics to base their editori-
al decisions on. Others rely on their own
reasoning on readers’ preferences to make
editorial adjustments if necessary.
Other factors such as requests from
editorial teams, professional routines and
news sources, among others also inu-
ence the news production process in terms
of stereotypical content against female
leaders. However, compared to journalists’
family background and audience, these
factors are not as inuential as the two
above-mentioned ones.
The limited time and resources for this
study did not allow for an expanded
examination of other types of media con-
tent including gameshows, talk shows,
or opinion pieces besides news. However,
this is a suggestion for future research for
a more thorough investigation of gender
stereotypes against women in mainstream
media content.
7.3. Recommendations
Journalists are able to lead public discussions and
thus be pioneers in social change. Changes in news
media
content can have multiplied inuence on the society.
For that reason, we expect that relevant government
bodies, social organizations as well as individuals
can utilize the ndings from this research to design
responsive
interventions ultimately aiming to promote gender
stereotype-free media content.
Admittedly, fostering behavioral changes that are
deeply rooted in traditional culture is not easy and
cannot be done in a short time. It is the same for
gender stereotypes. Thus, the recommendations below
need to be translated into interventions with various
timeframes and diverse strategies to be effective.
Fostering changes in journalists’ perception of and tra-
ditional views on female leaders’ skills and traits
In order to foster changes in journalists’
perceptions of female leaders’ skills and
traits, more training courses are needed to
provide knowledge of gender stereotypes
and gender-sensitive content to different
groups of journalists. The length of the
courses needs to be carefully consid-
ered for journalists to have enough time
to capture the complex and subtleness of
gender stereotypes as well as to connect
them journalism work. Trainers need to have
deep knowledge of journalism, with a strong
understanding of newsroom practices and
news content production process in order
to design relevant training programs.
Incorporating gender stereotypes topics
into formal journalism education at uni-
versities in the country. In many journalism
training programs in the world, “Women in
the news” is a semester-long class instead
of only one short session as part of a gen-
eral class. In that women-focused class,
student journalists participate in various
discussions, researching the issue of
gender equality and women in the news
48
49
from multiple perspectives including ethical
guidelines, standard newsroom practices or
news content monitoring. From our knowledge
of journalism training in Vietnam, there has
not been such a course focusing on the issue
of gender stereotypes in the news in general
and with regard to female leaders in particular.
Thus, we recommend the introduction of a
semester-long course for journalism students.
The impact of this intervention may not be
immediate. However, it is expected to foster
long-term changes among future journalists.
Activities for this work may include support-
ing colleges in designing courses, providing
expert knowledge, engaging colleges and
journalism students in the topic.
Developing sound journalism training with a
focus on changing journalists’ perception of
gender stereotypes and their daily routines
with regard to gender issues. If we wish to im-
prove news media content in terms of gender
stereotypes, undeniable changes need to
originate from journalists or the content
producers should be our major target group.
Fostering changes in journalists’ behavior and
professional practices with respect to gen-
der stereotypes will not be achieved without
journalists recognizing what is gender-stereo-
typical. Using two different sets of standards,
one for work and one for family, will not help
ensure sustainable changes in journalists’
perception of gender stereotypes. In other
words, for changes in their perception of gen-
der stereotypes and professional practices to
happen, changes in journalists’ understanding
of gender stereotypes in their families need
to happen, too. Thus, we recommend that be-
sides focusing on gender stereotypes related
to journalism work, training courses need to
Photo: Le Thanh Hoa
aim at changing journalists’ perceptions
and behaviors with regard to gender issues
at home. Apart from training, we also
recommend communication campaigns
taking journalists as the target group. Some
general suggestions for campaign activities
include workshops, communications pub-
lications, stickers, short lms, television
and radio talk shows with scenarios that
journalists can relate to. These campaigns
could be done in partnership with profes-
sional associations such as the Journalists’
Association and Club for Young Journal-
ists, among others. Messages for these
campaigns need to show consistency and
relevance to journalism.
Organizing trainings into which gender
stereotypes should be incorporated to build
capacity and improve professional skills for
journalists.
Institutional and organization changes in terms of
gender stereotypes
Incorporating regulations and guidelines on
gender stereotypes into professional guide-
books or codes of conduct of news organi-
zations. We recommend providing training
on gender stereotypes guidelines to edi-
torial teams so that they can apply, super-
vise and enforce the new rules. The target
groups for this activity should be editorial
senior members including editors-in-chief,
deputy editors-in-chief, managing editors
and section editors.
Continuing to develop networks of core
members among journalists who will serve
as agent for changes by sharing their
knowledge of gender equality and stereo-
types to their colleagues. However, selec-
tion of core members should be based on
whether the selected journalists have the
ability to inuence, set routines, introduce
new practices or create changes in their
news organizations.
Stepping up the role of social organizations in
monitoring media content
We recommend capacity building for social
organizations working in the eld of wom-
en’s rights. These organizations should
step up their role in monitoring and holding
dialogues with news organizations with the
goal of ensuring gender-stereotype-free
news media content. Recent years of suc-
cess by children rights organizations using
similar monitoring mechanisms show that
gender stereotypical news content against
women in general and female leaders
in particular could be improved through
closely monitoring the content and holding
timely dialogues with news organizations
and journalists.
Currently in Vietnam, a number of double
standards that can create or reinforce
gender stereotypes have been propagated
by local women’s rights organizations. An
example of this is the campaign to encour-
age “women to be great at both work and
home.” Since the end of 2015, VnExpress
launched a section which was part of
the campaign “Honoring women who are
condent advancers” under its partnership
with the Vietnam Women’s Union. Numerous
articles with gender stereotypical content
have been published in this section. Exam-
ples of the titles of these articles include:
“The woman who are excellent both at work
and at home,” “Singer Thuy Tien: Don’t just
50
51
focus on advancing in your career without
paying attention to your family,” or “Five
laundry tips every mother should know”
among others. This is a national campaign
targeting women with various activities.
However, when women’s rights activists
continue to cooperate with the news
media to propagandize gender stereotypes
through news content, it would hinder
efforts to eliminate gender bias among the
public. Thus, building capacity and raising
awareness for workers of women’s rights
organizations are crucial in any campaign
and advocacy work in this area.
Besides ongoing efforts in publishing a
quarterly newsletter to point out main-
stream media content that is gender ste-
reotypical (Ban tin nhat san gioi), reactions
and dialogues between social and news
media organizations on this issue need to
be diversied in terms of approach and lev-
el of engagement. A stronger collaboration
among social organizations working in the
area of gender equality such as members
of the Network of Organizations in the area
of women’s rights is needed to have con-
certed efforts and consistent measures for
news media advocacy campaigns on this
issue. Ultimately, these efforts and mea-
sures need to be translated into changes
in journalists’ perception of and behaviors
toward gender equality and stereotypes.
We also recommend strengthening, step-
ping up and extending the existing moni-
toring work run by the gender justice coali-
tion. This work requires the engagement of
multiple parties and should be completed
under a mechanism that provides close
monitoring, liaison and consultation to
journalists and media outlets on a daily
basis. This will have immediate impacts on
the two main target groups of audience
including working journalists and operating
media organizations.
52
Photo: Do Manh Cuong
53
© Oxfam in Vietnam December 2016
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... Its discourse on gender equality fits the government's development and modernizing agenda as it sought to separate itself from the country's feudal past (pre-revolution of 1945) (Drummond & Rydstr€ om, 2004). Despite this discourse, a number of authors state that Vietnam is still a largely patriarchal society as evidenced by the high rates of gender-based violence, the representation of women in the media in stereotypical ways and their discrimination from accessing leadership roles in politics and the workplace (Duong, 2001;Mate, McDonald, & Do, 2019;Nguyẽn, 2011;Vũ, Dương, Barnett, & Lee, 2016;Vu, Barnett, Duong, & Lee, 2019). ...
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