Representation refers to stereotypes or dominant images of particular groups found in the media. Women are found mainly in domestic settings and are portrayed in a narrower range of social roles than men. Cumberbatch's 1990 study of advertising found that men were twice as likely to be shown in advertising concerning paid employment and that women were twice as likely to carry out household chores.
Women are often depicted as sex objects on television, as physical looks, sexual allure, docility and youth seem to be necessary social attributes for women. These are less important for male film stars and television presenters. Most women on television and in films seem to be aged less than 30 years old. Cumberbatch's survey found that women often occupy a more decorative role than men and Mulvey suggests that women are portrayed as sex objects and as the male-defined ideal.
Cumberbatch found that 89% of voice-overs for television commercials were male and that in advertising women were out-numbered by a 2:1 ratio against men. When women are portrayed as career women on television, they tend to come across as unfulfilled, unattractive and with low self-esteem, often lacking something in their lives, such as maintaining a satisfactory family life.
Several newspapers have "women's pages" which focus on women as a separate group, requiring different needs, often seeming to serve as an emotional outlet for women. It is said that female issues are marginalized by the media, such as female sport both in newspapers and on television. This extends to feminist ideas and lesbianism, which are often dealt with critically or excluded altogether within the media, suggesting that they are separate groups or a minority.
In 1996 only 4 out of 30 top BBC executives were female, only 20% of newspaper editors were women and only 17% of journalists for national newspapers were women. Men dominate top positions throughout the media and it can be argued that this power enables them to use exploitative images of women.