Female Gender Stereotypes in Color: What They Are, How They Came About and What They Mean

Last Updated: 30 Jan 2021
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The purpose of this investigation is to understand what are the color stereotypes for females, how they contrast with color stereotypes for males, how these stereotypes have come about and how they are reinforced. 2 Body 1: b discuss what is currently accepted as “femanine colors/femanine quality of colors” c lean more towards the quality of color: how the color is softer, lighter, with more variety of shade. the reason for this could be due to scientific reasons. d Femanine colors are generally seen as softer, lighter, more variety in shade. A possible reason for this characterization could be due to how the perception of color is different for females than it is for males. females have a wider range of color perception than males. (refer to diagram) (females can more easily percieve more subtle shades of color than males can. because of this refinement these kinds of “softer colors” with “off-primary shades” are precieved as more femanine like. this scientific reason could be why colors are precieved this way. e why have these qualities been ascribed to females


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Contrasting evidence also suggests that certain femanine colors are seen this way due to baby gender identification and due to advertsing g Advertising: strong evidence suggests that advertising plays a large role in determining these kinds of color stereotyping. ii show articles displaying this kind of advertising. iii explain that in the past color stereotypes were actually reversed: pink was considered a boys color and blue was considered a girl color. iv when advertisers changed their minds about this stereotyping in the 1920s people began to dress differently.

This mindset has continued into today. But this change in thought suggests that advertising plays a significant role in what people consider a “boy’s color” and a “girls color” Robert Pietrzak2/27/13 Female Gender Stereotypes in color: What they are, how they came about and what they mean. There have been a of scientific studies that have looked for how gender affects color disposition and how colors relate to gender. While they have looked at different factors and come to different conclusions, there has been a consensus that color stereotypes exist and for females differ from those of men.

These can be attributed to physiological color dispositions that differ between genders due to evolutionary reasons. While there may be a color disposition the existance of stereotypes have its roots in other factors such as the influence of media upon what is accepted as a stereotype, the actions of gender identification by consumers, and the influence of gender disposition from a young age. In their preliminary research Hurbert and Ling stated that within the “long history of color preference studeis... here is a definite predisposition for certain colors that differs across genders” (Hurlbert and Ling). Hurlbert and Ling were two social scientists that attempted to more accurately determine what these color dispositions were. They conducted a multi-step experiment to try to find out what kinds of colors were favored by males and females. They found that females prefered soft, bright colors such as pink, yellow, and purple. Males prefered darker, harder colors such as red, blue, and green. Females additionally gravitated towards more non-primary colors with variety in shade than males (Hurbert and Ling).

This disposition was attributed to a physiological reason: that it has to do with how the two genders perceive color differently. Females are able to better detect and identify a more wide range of colors than males can. Due to this they gravitate towards colors with more variety than males do. (Hurbert and Ling) Additionally it was suggested in their research that females possibly have this color disposition due to evolutionary reasons. Females, being the primary caregivers, needed to be able to detect if their was something wrong with her baby by detecting hues of red better than males do (Hurbert and Ling).

Additionally society for humans was originally set up as hunter gatherers. Due to this females were given the role of gathering while the males hunted. Being able to pick up on a variety of soft, bright hues could possibly have helped with gathering berries and other foods in the wild (Hurlbert and Ling). Other research has looked at the issue from a different angle: if color is associated with gender stereotypes. Most color studies have looked towards the stereotype of “pink being a girl’s color and blue being a boy’s color”. (Hurbert and Ling).

This stereotype is seen in many examples of advertising. Paoletti gives many examples of this in her novel. One such example is a big magazine article labeled for “babies” that only sells clothes in pink and blue for the respective genders. She states that advertisers stressed that new born boys “be given blue shirts, hats, cribs, etc. ” while girls were to be dressed in pink (Paoletti). Especially prevalent in the baby boomer generation, pink was predominantly used with girls associated with feminine qualities and is given this characteristic in modern day society. DeLoache and LoBlue). A recent study done by Andree Pomerleau, Daniel Bolduc, Gerard Malcuit, and Louise Cossette discusses how from a very early age there are drastic color differences between the two genders that stay relatively constant for their early years of development: “Girls... wore pink and multicolored clothes more often, had more pink pacifiers and jewelry. Boys wore more blue, red and white clothing. They had more blue pacifiers. Yellow bedding was more frequently observed in the girls' rooms, while blue bedding and curtains were more prevalent in the boys' rooms.

Women were the predominant providers of toys for children. It thus seems that, nowadays, very early in their development, girls and boys already experience environments which are dissimilar. ” Brooks also states that this color stereotype is attributed to the influence of the media upon the population (Brooks). However this has not always been the case. In fact this stereotype used to be completely flipped around. In the Early 1900s pink was actually considered a masculine color while blue was considered feminine. Paoletti…has documented that the North American tradition of dressing infant boys in blue and infant girls in pink began the 1920s. Prior to that decade, Paoletti…noted that the sex-dimorphic color coding of pink and blue was inverted, i. e. , infant boys were dressed in pink and infant girls were dressed in blue.... At one point, pink was considered more of a boy’s color, as a watered-down, bold, dramatic red, which is a fierce color. Instead, blue was considered more for girls. ” (Del Giudice) David Brooks highlights this by quoting a 1918 article in Ladies Home Journal.

It advised: “The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl. ” (Brooks) This trend began to change around the 1920s. As portrayed in a Time Magazine chart, advertisers in this time period began to change what was an accepted “girl” color and “boy” color through their advertising (Advertiser Advocation for Different Color Stereotypes in 1927).

Jo Paolettti points out in her research that these influences were picked up by the baby boomer generation in response to continued media advertisement. The research does not necessarily answer why the media reversed this stereotype but it does show the power media has upon accepted stereotypes, public thought, and accepted social norms. It was able to completely reverse and change an accepted stereotype in the public mind simply through its influence. Additional research into the subject of media and color genderization has found that color stereotypes are additionally reinforced by social means.

Jo Paoletti explains in her book how the prevalence of this media influence was strengthened by a desire to be able to tell the gender apart from another child to be an expectation as to what the child should wear and what people should buy for the child. People would go out and buy gender oriented clothing for the new baby. The new baby would then wear this gifted clothing further cementing the stereotype (Paoletti). Different research has looked into this issue from a social standpoint but looking towards how gender conflict can influence and support accepted stereotypes.

LoBlue and DeLoache conducted a large cross sectional study which contained children aged 7 months to 5 years. The Children “were offered eight pairs of objects and asked to choose one. In every pair, one of the objects was always pink. By the age of 2, girls chose pink objects more often than boys did, and by the age of 2. 5, they had a significant preference for the colour pink over other colours. At the same time, boys showed an increasing avoidance of pink. ” The researchers were especially fascinated with was the avoidance of pink by the boys. They concluded that “... hese results thus reveal that sex differences in young children’s preference for the colour pink involves both an increasing attraction to pink by young girls and a growing avoidance of pink by boys. ” As both genders gravitate towards their gender stereotyped color avoidance had just as big of an impact as the stereotype does. As girls associate with pink, the boys feel pressured by themselves to not associate with pink, thus propagating the stereotype. (LoBlue and DeLoache). This highlights how powerful gender “conflict” that occurs at a young age can influence and propagate gender stereotypization.

Female color stereotypization can be attributed to multiple possible sources and comes about for different possible reasons. A scientific reason as to why some color qualities are perceived as more feminine could be due to how females and males perceive color. On the other hand additional color stereotypes came about as the result of advertising and the influence of the media upon public opinion. This influence would be strengthened if the color genderization before the 1920s was different than what it currently is today.

This would suggest, according to Paoletti, that the media have a profound, changeable effect on what the public stereotypization encompasses. However the changability of this stereotype could also highlight something else. David Brooks states in his article that this shift could also highlight the weakness such stereotypes have and how subject to change they could have: “The fascinating thing is how slippery the color-gender link is. It seems so hard-wired, but the link between pink and femininity may be just a cultural construct. The LoBlue and DeLoache research offers another possible conclusion: that the existence of such stereotypes creates tendencies within populations to follow those stereotypes which in turn strengthen the stereotype itself through psychosocial means.

Works Cited

  1. Brooks, David. "Pink and Blue. " New York Times Blogs. New York Times, 22 Apr. 2011. Web. 27 Feb. 2013. <http://brooks. blogs. nytimes. com/2011/04/22/pink-and-blue/>.
  2. Paoletti, Jo Barraclough. Pink and Blue: Telling the Boys from the Girls in America. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2012. Print.
  3. LoBue, Vanessa and Judy S. DeLoache. "Pretty In Pink: The Early Development Of Gender-Stereotyped Colour Preferences. " British Journal Of Developmental Psychology 29. 3 (2011): 656-667. Academic Search Premier. Web. 27 Feb. 2013.
  4.  Del Giudice, Marco. "The Twentieth Century Reversal Of Pink-Blue Gender Coding: A Scientific Urban Legend?. " Archives Of Sexual Behavior 41. 6 (2012): 1321-1323. Academic Search Premier. Web. 27 Feb. 2013.
  5. Pomerleau, Andree, Daniel Bolduc, and et al. "Pink Or Blue: Environmental Gender Stereotypes in the First Two Years of Life. " Sex Roles 22. 5-6 (1990): 359-. ProQuest Education Journals; ProQuest Psychology Journals; ProQuest Social Science Journals. Web. 27 Feb. 2013.
  6.  Advertiser Advocation for Different Color Stereotypes in 1927. " Chart. Time Magazine. N. p. : n. p. , n. d. N. pag. Pink Is for Boys. 11 Nov. 1927. Web. 27 Feb. 2013. <http://www. pinkisforboys. org/uploads/4/4/3/9/4439935/626833. jpeg>
  7.  Anya C. Hurlbert, Yazhu Ling. “Biological components of sex differences in color preference”. Print. Current Biology, 17. 16 (2007), Pages R623-R625. (http://www. sciencedirect. com/science/article/pii/S096098220701559X) Thurs. 21 March 2012

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Female Gender Stereotypes in Color: What They Are, How They Came About and What They Mean. (2016, Dec 25). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/female-gender-stereotypes-in-color-what-they-are-how-they-came-about-and-what-they-mean/

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