Gender stereotypes to be banned in UK ads

The UK's advertising watchdog said it is banning "gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence".

Lydia Morrish
Lydia Morrish NewsMavens, United Kingdom
Gender stereotypes to be banned in UK ads - NewsMavens
Boy and girl. Pexels

Why this story matters:

From toys to who does the cooking on Christmas Day, it's the time of year when gender stereotypes come out to play yet again.

But the UK's advertising watchdog is trying to do something about it.

From June 2019, it will ban adverts that perpetuate stereotypes like men struggling with household chores and girls being less intelligent than boys.

Finally, the negative impacts of gender stereotypes are being affirmed by an authority. June 2019, when the ban will be enacted, can't come soon enough.

Details from the story:

  • The UK's Committees of Advertising Practice will ban adverts that perpetuate harmful gender stereotypes from June 2019.
  • The organisation said stereotypes "contribute to how people see themselves and their role in society", influence decisions people make and hold some people back.
  • The new policy comes after the Advertising Standards Authority, the organisation that administers the UK Advertising Codes reviewed gender stereotyping in adverts.
  • It found that "harmful stereotypes can restrict the choices, aspirations and opportunities of children, young people and adults" and stop people "fulfilling their potential, or from aspiring to certain jobs and industries, bringing costs for individuals and the economy".
  • The review concluded that advertising played a part in unequal gender outcomes by reinforcing these stereotypes.
  • Gender stereotyping is having something of a moment in Britain.
  • Women's rights and gender equality charity Fawcett Society, named after prominent suffragist Millicent Fawcett, launched a social media campaign to combat gender-stereotyped toys in the lead up to Christmas.
  • Its “Smashing Stereotypes” campaign intends to display how toys, clothes, stationery and books are all designed with children's genders in mind, which influence young people. The issue is particularly acute at Christmas, when gifts are bought for children.
  • "Gender stereotypes hold us all back and help to drive assumptions about who does the caring," Fawcett Society chief executive Sam Smethers told The Independent. "They cause toxic masculinity and hold women and girls back in terms of the career choices they perceive as being 'for them'."
  • However, the advertising ban won't cover typical gender norms.
  • "There is nothing in our new guidance to suggest that ads can't feature people carrying out gender-typical roles," Ella Smillie, a policy expert at the Committees of Advertising Practice told the BBC. "So for example if you had a woman doing the cleaning, we wouldn't anticipate a problem. But if you had an advert with a man creating lots of mess and putting his feet up while a woman cleaned up around him, and it was very clear that she was the only person that did that at home, that's the kind of thing that could be a problem."
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