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Women's Health & Policy Updates > Recent Literature

Recent Social Science & Health Services Literature


Gender in the Prozac Nation:

Popular Discourse and Productive Femininity

GENDER & SOCIETY, Vol. 18, No. 3, June 2004 269-286


Prozac’s celebrity status has been assured since it emerged as an alleviant of depression in the late 80’s.  Its prevalence in mainstream culture has led to a dramatic increase in the discussion and treatment of depression for both men and women.  But has the promotion of this so-called “de-gendered” drug really been sexually neutral or are women subtly targeted under the assumption that ameliorating female emotional deficiencies will better enable them to achieve success in the modern world?  This article examines the portrayal of Prozac and “cousin” anti-depressants through articles published during its first 12 years on the market to determine how popular discourse reflects notions of gender, productivity and mental health.


Girls Low Self-Esteem:

How is it Related to Later Socioeconomic Achievements?

GENDER & SOCIETY, Vol. 18, No. 3, June 2004 309-327


Beginning in the early nineties low adolescent self-esteem was considered a major inhibitor of professional success and income attainment later in life.  Many were especially alarmed about the future of young women in light of other findings suggesting that girls suffer a disproportionate and dramatic decrease in self-esteem as they enter their teen years.  As a result, numerous programs throughout the last decade have focused specifically on rebuilding girls’ self esteem. The author of this article posits that the relationship between self-esteem and socioeconomic achievement is neither so dire nor direct.  First, it appears that the influence of self-esteem is not uniform by gender, such that boys experience a much more positive effect on occupational outcome than girls.   Even so, the overall impact of self-esteem on future success for both sexes is quite small.  Numerous other personal and contextual factors such as family encouragement in adolescence and marital division of labor in adulthood have a greater impact on professional achievement.  The author recommends that future research and programming for adolescents focus on the structural social arrangements that limit a young women’s ability to achieve and how they can be changed, rather than issues of self-esteem.


Constructions of Gender in Sport:

An Analysis of Intercollegiate Media Guide Cover Photographs

GENDER & SOCIETY, Vol. 18, No. 1, February 2004  66-81


A review of cover photographs from the National Collegiate Athletic Association media guides shows that intercollegiate male and female athletes tend to be portrayed differently.  The study compared photos from 1990 through 1997 and found that women were more likely than men to appear inactive, off court, and out of uniform.  The photos more often depicted women as passive and in traditional female roles.  Despite the growth in women’s athletic participation and the influence of Title IX, the portrayal of female athletes improved little over the examined seven-year period.  The NCAA Media guide was consistent with the popular media’s portrayal of highly gendered athletics.     



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