Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Mass Communications

Major Professor

Larry Leslie, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Kenneth Killebrew, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kimberly Golombisky, Ph.D.


UPN network, Stereotypes, Professional, Workforce statistics, Sweeps month


This study examined portrayals of African-American women shown in professional careers on prime-time network television during the May 2005 sweeps month. Specifically, the study compares these portrayals to actual U.S. Department of Labor workforce statistics to observe a possible similarity. Additionally, the study identifies any behavioral and conversational stereotyped attributes ascribed to AfricanAmerican female characters shown in the workplace. A quantitative content analysis of four broadcast networks (FOX, ABC, UPN, and WB) ranked by Nielsen Media as having the highest rated prime-time television programming among minority households for 2003-2004 revealed that African-American female characters on network television are over-represented in terms of professional careers in comparison to their actual presence in U.S. workforce statistics. However, their actual presence in these careers is higher than that of African-American male characters on network television, which closely resembles the distribution of professional African-American males and females in the U.S. working population. The results also revealed that out of the four networks, UPN had a substantially greater number of African-American female characters in professional careers, but their representations include subtle messages of racial/ethnic stereotypical behaviors commonly associated with African-Americans.