Advertising watchdog bans adverts that feature 'harmful' gender stereotypes

Woman cooking

Friday, December 14, 2018

The Advertising Standards Authority has introduced a ban on adverts featuring "harmful" gender stereotypes.

From June 2019 the watchdog will not allow adverts that feature "stereotypical gender roles or characteristics", such as women being left with the sole responsibility to clean, or an ad that shows a man failing to understand simple parental or household tasks.

However, the ASA's media and public affairs manager, Shabnum Mustapha, said the ban did not mean a cleaning product could "never be fronted by a woman".



"Gender stereotypes would reflect reality in some instances. We're not saying that an ad for a cleaning product can never be fronted by a woman and an advert for a DIY product can never be fronted by a man," she told talkRADIO's Julia Hartley-Brewer.

"What we're saying is there's certain types of ads which implies a certain rule or a certain behaviour can only be associated with one gender over the other, so an ad that mocks men for talking about their feelings or showing emotion might be problematic."

The advertising watchdog will look at adverts on a case-by-case basis, rather than a "wholesale ban".


'Reflect where society is today'

Ms Mustapha added that the regulator had a responsibility to "reflect where society is today" and not "30 years ago".

"We saw evidence that continuing stereotypes that women can only do caring roles and be emotional, that can impact on choices that people make in life, so the subject that women and girls choose at school or university," she explained.

"It's a cumulative effect. If people are seeing that kind of stereotype in ads and other media it's perpetuating a stereotype."