Date of Award

Fall 12-14-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Daniel Carlson

Second Advisor

Donald Reitzes

Third Advisor

Mindy Stombler


Despite the wide, diverse, and captive Super Bowl television audience, there are only a few studies—none longitudinal—that have examined gender representations in Super Bowl commercials. Scholars have demonstrated that advertisements influence our behaviors and attitudes and can reinforce and reflect dominant ideologies (Garst and Bodenhausen 1997; Kilbourne 1999; Smeesters and Mandel 2006). This study examines how the gender narratives and representations in 665 Super Bowl advertisements that aired between 2005 and 2016 changed over time. Based on this content analysis, gender representations and narratives of Super Bowl commercials shifted to become more egalitarian. While there was a general trajectory toward more gender-egalitarian messaging, there were periods of more gender-traditional messaging along the way that followed shifts in the United States economy, with masculinity crisis and correction themes prevalent in the advertisements that aired during the economic downturn. As the economy recovered, advertisers emphasized fatherhood, caring men, and tough women.