Master of Science (MS)


Human Ecology

Document Type



Hayes, Ashley, B.S., Western Kentucky University, 2007. Master of Science, Fall Commencement, 2010. Major: Human Ecology Dress, Dialogue, and Gender in The Mary Tyler Moore Show from 1970-1977 Thesis directed by Jenna Tedrick Kuttruff, Professor Pages in thesis: 78 Words in abstract: 303 ABSTRACT The Mary Tyler Moore Show has been recognized as the first television program to feature a single career oriented female, the lead character Mary Richards. Many aspects of the show have been researched, including whether Mary Richards could be considered a true feminist role model. The show, which aired from 1970-1977, is important as it reflects both a change in television culture as well as a change in American culture. This purpose of this study is to examine how comments regarding Mary Richard’s dress depicted her gender role throughout the seven years the series aired. In addition, the study examines if gender roles on The Mary Tyler Moore Show reflected by changes in perceived gender roles in America at that time. A sample of 91 episodes, out of the 168 total episodes (54 percent of the total population), was used and data collection included questions on the type of comments made regarding Mary’s dress. Thirty-seven comments were recorded, the most frequent being made by Mary Richards herself. None of the comments made rejected traditional gender roles, although comments were less likely to support these roles in the later years of the show. An important example of Mary’s dress and gender role is when she first wore pants to the workplace in 1972. However, Mary wearing pants to work occurred years later than many women wearing pants in the corporate workplace in America. Based on this qualitative research, The Mary Tyler Moore Show was behind the changing cultural norms in society from 1970-1977. The biggest issues, as well as the biggest change in gender roles took place in the third and fourth season of the show (1972-1974). Mary’s gender role was identified as traditional at the beginning of the series but slowly evolved into less traditional, although it was never ahead of the curve.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Kuttruff, Dr. Jenna Tedrick



Included in

Human Ecology Commons