India's huge financial power and recent economic expansion have been supported by multi-level marketing (MLM) initiatives over the last decade. This type of business structure is notorious for having shady ethics and for enforcing traditional stereotypes, and as MLMs enter the Indian market, they find themselves navigating even more gender and race-based stereotypes. In India-a country where women have one of the lowest labor participation rates in the world and where advertisements have historically portrayed women as submissive-multi-level marketing companies' posts on social media can have large influences on how the public sees gender roles in business. To better understand the gender stereotypes present in Indian MLM social media posts, this study aimed to study trends and stereotypes in Facebook images posted by India's 5 largest MLM companies. The content analysis sample consisted of photos posted on the India-specific Facebook pages of the five largest MLM companies in India. The content analysis measured 733 images for gender roles by analyzing body language, interpersonal interactions, career roles, and other indications of sexist portrayals. The results showed that in some ways, stereotypical gender roles are still very present in Indian MLM Facebook posts. For example, men are still pictured in leadership roles far more than women. However, in other ways, these posts show men and women as equals. In this sample, men and women had equal representation in posts where they were using technology, being pictured with their family, and other traditionally gendered situations. This denotes social progress and a change in MLM marketing strategy, both of which are significant for this USD$1.9 billion industry.



College and Department

Fine Arts and Communications; Communications



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gender stereotypes, multi-level marketing, India