Tween Girls' Perception of Gender Roles and Gender Identities: A Qualitative Study

Birgitte Tufte, Kara Chan, Gianna Cappello

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Purpose – The present study aims to examine girls' perception of gender roles and gender identities in Hong Kong.

Design/methodology/approach – A total of 16 girls aged 10 to 12 were asked to take pictures from the media that could illustrate “what girls or women should or should not be; and what girls or women should or should not do”. Qualitative interviews were conducted.

Findings – Analysis of interviews and images captured found that tween girls' perceived gender roles for females were based on a mixture of traditional and contemporary role models. Girls in Hong Kong demonstrated conservatism in sexuality. Sexy outlook and pre-marital sexual relations were considered inappropriate. Tween girls showed concern about global as well as domestic social agendas. They used a variety of media and showed interest in contents primarily for adults.

Research limitations/implications – The study was based on a convenience sample. The interviewees came from middle to lower income families, limiting the validity for generalization. Further quantitative study is needed to establish benchmarks.

Practical implications – This study will help in understanding the kinds of media images that attract the attention of female tweens and what those images mean to them. The study can serve as a guideline for marketing communication aimed at this target group, particularly for skincare, beauty, and cosmetic marketers.

Originality/value – The first novel idea that is being used in this research is the combination of visual method and the application of qualitative methodology to the study of media effects. The second novel idea is the use of interviewees as data-collectors. The methodology enables contextually relevant questions and to understand the meaning of the images captured.
Original languageEnglish
JournalYoung Consumers
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)66-81
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Mass Media
  • Influence
  • Socialization
  • Hong Kong
  • Girls
  • Sex and Gender Issues

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