The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) will issue new standards on gender stereotyping in advertising. These will aim to address concerns about the harmful effects that gender stereotyping can have on children, young people and adults.
The CAP announcement has followed publication by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) of its report, “Depictions, Perceptions and Harm”, which indicates that gender stereotypes in advertising can restrict the choices, aspirations and opportunities of children, young people and adults. This ultimately has a cost for individuals, the economy and society.
The CAP codes of practice require that advertisers take particular care to avoid causing offence on the grounds of gender, but they do not currently address the issue of gender stereotyping specifically. The ASA report has provided an evidence-based case for changing this.
It is not intended that the new standards will ban all forms of gender stereotypes but, depending on the context and content, certain depictions are likely to be problematic, for example:
- an ad which depicts family members creating a mess while a woman has sole responsibility for cleaning it up;
- an ad that suggests a specific activity is inappropriate for boys because it is stereotypically associated with girls, or vice-versa; or
- an ad that features a man trying and failing to undertake simple parental or household tasks.
The new standards are intended to come into force next year, and CAP will be publishing further guidance before then.