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Advertising Standards Authority invites comments on gender stereotyping in adverts

The UK advertising watchdog, Advertising Standards Authority, is launching an investigation into negative gender portrayals in advertising. A spokesperson for the ASA said: “The objectification and sexualisation of women in ads, presenting an idealised or unrealistic body image, the mocking of women and men in non-stereotypical roles, the reinforcement of stereotyped views of gender roles, and gender-specific marketing to children are all issues that have gained considerable public interest.”

You can read more about this story on the Independent

The ASA is calling on organisations and individual members of the public to have their say and comment on the situation as it stands, as well as submitting evidence. You can do this by emailing gender@asa.org.uk

At Zero Tolerance we work to end men’s violence against women by promoting gender equality and by challenging attitudes which normalise abuse and violence. A large part of that work involves analysing and criticising how the media shapes public perception of violence against women, and how it reinforces gender roles. Corporate brands have long been criticised for creating advertising campaigns that objectify women and in some cases perpetuate the subordination of women presenting them as weak and vulnerable.  They also often perpetuate rigid and outdated gender roles for both adults and children.

We know that advertising and the media has a huge impact on people’s perceptions; that’s why it’s important we challenge harmful advertising where possible. You can download our full submission to the ASA at the bottom of this page.

Here are some of Zero Tolerance's concerns about sexism in advertising

  • Advertising makes up a key aspect of sexualised media, and was found to have impacts on the way young people experience sex and sexuality. 48% of girls, and 66% of boys see sexualised images 'every day’.
  • UK advertising continues to rely on stereotypical depictions of gender: women are responsible for domestic duties and child care whereas men are portrayed as strong, in leadership positions and powerful. This promotes gender inequality which in turn is a cause and consequence of violence against women. 
  • Some adverts can be seen as being on the spectrum of violence against women, particularly when considering online advertising for pornography. Adverts which sexualise violence or promote using women as objects all contribute to this.

Below are some questions you might like to consider when you’re writing your response:

  • Are you writing about one advert or company in particular or about a trend of advertising?
  • Who do you think this advertisement is targeting?
  • What impact do you think this advert would have on people; how might it influence perceptions and thinking?
  • What would you prefer to see?

Here are some helpful links on the influence of the media to inform your response 

The default setting: what parents say about gender roles in children’s early years – report from Zero Tolerance

Just Like a Child – Zero Tolerance guide for childcare professionals aimed at preventing gender stereotyping.

Social Attitudes Report, Scottish Government, 2014

Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes Report, Ofcom, 2013

Bye Buy Childhood: A report into the commercialisation of childhood, 2010

Gender Stereotypes in Advertising Zero Tolerance Evidence.pdf
Added: July 5, 2016
1.03 MB



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