Ban coming for ads depicting ‘harmful’ gender stereotypes

Adverts showing harmful ‘gender’ stereotypes will be banned from next year.

Mother cleaning with her baby and partner sitting on the sofa, not helping


Ads that depict ‘harmful‘ gender stereotypes are to be banned under a new rule in the Advertising Codes which comes into force next June.

The change follows a review of gender stereotyping in adverts by the Advertising Standards Authority [ASA] and a consultation process. The review found evidence suggesting that “harmful stereotypes can restrict the choices, aspirations and opportunities of children, young people and adults and these stereotypes can be reinforced by some advertising, which plays a part in unequal gender outcomes”.

The ASA says the evidence does not show that the use of gender stereotypes is always problematic and the new rule does not seek to ban gender stereotypes outright, but to identify specific harms that should be prevented.

Advertisers have been given examples of scenarios likely to be problematic in ads. They include an ad that depicts a man with his feet up and family members creating mess around a home while a woman is solely responsible for cleaning up the mess, an ad aimed at new mums which suggests that looking attractive or keeping a home pristine is a priority over other factors such as their emotional wellbeing and an ad that belittles a man for carrying out stereotypically ‘female’ roles or tasks.

Ella Smillie, gender stereotyping project lead, Committees of Advertising Practice [CAP], said: “The evidence we published last year showed that harmful gender stereotypes in ads contribute to how people see themselves and their role in society.  They can hold some people back from fulfilling their potential, or from aspiring to certain jobs and industries, bringing costs for individuals and the economy.  We’ve spent time consulting on new standards to make sure they target specifically those images and portrayals we found cause harm.”

CAP will carry out a 12 month review after the new rule comes into force to make sure it’s meeting its objective to prevent harmful gender stereotypes.

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