Archive: Professor Drenten builds stereotypes of ladies in social media and gaming: Quinlan College of Enterprise: Loyola College Chicago
Professor Drenten builds stereotypes of women in social media and gaming
Professor Drenten’s research focuses on how people live their lives through social media.
professor Jenna Drenten recently joined an international group of pioneering researchers by working in the Handbook of Gender and Marketing Research.
Two other Quinlan marketing professors were also published in the manual: Professor Katherine Sredl has a chapter on Gender Marketing in Emerging Markets and Professor Linda Tuncay Zayer has a chapter on transformative consumer marketing.
Drenten’s two manual chapters discuss how ideals of beauty are influenced by social media and the culture of gender-based harassment in video games. In the following, she describes her research and what it means.
What is your main research focus?
My research is mainly concerned with technology-mediated consumer culture. That means that I study how people live their lives through social media. I look at how they use it, what it means to them and how they convey their life through social media.
For example, in the Gender and Marketing Handbook I have two chapters. One deals with body image and social media with things like the “hashtaggable body” and how social media changes ideals of beauty. I have another chapter on gaming and gender issues in the gaming industry, like GamerGate in the gaming community, which leads to gender harassment.
What trends have you identified in your research?
Traditionally, women’s bodies are shown in these media, which tend to be white, very tall, very blonde. Social media provides this space for the average everyday woman to post their pictures, and that’s wonderful for display – but are we actually falling into the same trap by reproducing the same or new ideals of beauty such as thigh gaps.
From the gaming aspect, there is a lot of gender-based harassment and a lot of women are excluded. From a production point of view, video games employ a traditional understanding of gender stereotypes. There are a lot more gender nuances in the world today and that is slowly starting to be reflected in the gaming community, but it doesn’t go top down – it’s the consumers who are fighting the industry. Consumers say if you don’t make different games, we’ll make them ourselves.
Why is your research important?
I think social media is becoming more and more of a dominant form of how we communicate, how we interact with one another, how we receive our messages, and how we buy things. It’s so embedded in consumer life. From a cultural perspective, it is important to understand how this is changing our communication practices, relationships, and economies.
Why should students get involved?
I started researching with my professor as a student. It was very exciting for me to do scientific research, to study topics that naturally interested me and to pursue this professionally. Students could be interested in scientific research and cultural research.
Often times we view a marketing degree as a pathway to advertising and making money for businesses, but that’s not always the case. Loyola is very focused on social justice and doing good to others. I think for Quinlan, especially college students, academic research is a viable career option.
How does working at Quinlan help your research?
One of the best things about Loyola is that the administration and my colleagues encourage them to look into non-traditional issues. It’s inspiring to be able to share my research in a collaborative and supportive environment.
There is a lot of curiosity and interest in each other’s research. I am happy when I find out about my colleagues’ research and what they are working on, and that motivates me. They help steer my research in a direction that I may not have thought of yet. I think it’s the idea of synergy – that we are stronger together and do better research together as a unit.
How does your research impact gender in marketing?
The problem with gender in marketing is that it is often misused as a gender difference: male versus female. The truth is, this is no longer the world we live in. We live in this dynamic continuum of what gender means and what it means to be male or female. In the past, gender was viewed as very black and white, but society goes on and on saying that gender doesn’t actually fit into just two buckets. So let’s look at what that means for marketing. My research sheds light on how consumers use social media and technology to empower or challenge gender ideals, and asks how marketers can use these insights to improve consumer wellbeing.