Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department / School

Sociology and Rural Studies

First Advisor

Donna Hess


Research has focused on the gender messages portrayed in television programs, cartoons, advertisements, literature, picture books, and fairy tales. One venue that has not received as much attention in the research is the Disney 1 full-length animated feature films. This is a qualitative study of the gender themes and portrayal of gender roles in full-length animated feature films by The Walt Disney Company. The findings in this research indicate there has been little change in the stereotyped portrayals of Disney characters from the release of the first full-length animated feature film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937 to the release of Toy Story in 1995. Male characters continue to outnumber female characters. Women are portrayed as performing more in-home labor, less out-of-home employment, and hold little familial or societal power. Small changes are noted in the presentation of character traits for both male and female characters. Perspectives from the sociology of knowledge and the social construction of reality serve as a theoretical framework to explain Disney's continual stereotyped portrayal of gender roles. Within this framework this study demonstrates how the abstract processes of objectification and legitimation occur in the production of gender typifications in the Disney films. The study concludes with a discussion of emerging gender themes and suggestions for future research concerning Disney films.

Disney and The Walt Disney Company are registered trademarks of The Walt Disney Company.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Walt Disney Company
Disney characters
Sex role in motion pictures
Women in motion pictures


Includes bibliographical references (pages 155-163)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


In Copyright - Educational Use Permitted