Gender stereotyping in UK adverts to be banned next year

Harmful gender stereotyping in advertisements is to be banned across the UK next year.

An advertisement for Aptamil baby formula shows a baby girl growing up to become a ballerina.

A new rule will be introduced in the UK Advertising Codes following a review of gender stereotyping by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which found more needed to be done to tackle advertisements featuring stereotypical gender roles and characteristics.

The ASA review published last summer, provided evidence for tougher regulation of advertisements with stereotypical gender roles or characteristics which can be harmful to people.

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The review included ones mocking people for not conforming to gender stereotypes.

An advertisement for Aptamil baby formula showing a baby girl “growing up” to become a ballerina while boys became mathematicians and mountaineers attracted criticism from gender campaigners.

However, the new rule will not ban all forms of gender stereotypes.

For example, the evidence falls short of calling for a ban on advertisements depicting a woman cleaning or a man doing DIY tasks.

But it suggests certain types of depictions are likely to be problematic, for example, an advertisement showing family members creating a mess while a woman has 
sole responsibility for cleaning it up, or one where a man is trying and failing to undertake simple parental or household tasks because of stereotypes associated with male 
gender.

Ella Smillie, from the Committees of Advertising Practice, (CAP), the body which writes the advertising codes. said: “Some gender stereotypes in ads can contribute to harm for adults and children by limiting how people 
see themselves, how others 
see them, and potentially restricting the life decisions they take.

“The introduction of a new advertising rule from 2018 will help advertisers to know where to draw the line on the use of acceptable and unacceptable stereotypes.

“We’ll set out our proposed new standards in Spring 2018 and openly consult on them.”

Guy Parker, chief executive of the Advertising Standards Authority, said while some advertisers had “updated” their outlook, the industry still needed to change. 
“While advertising is only one of many factors that contribute to unequal gender outcomes, we welcome CAP’s decision to introduce a new rule on harmful gender stereotypes in ads.

“Although companies have responded positively and constructively to our report, 
with welcome examples of voluntary action, there is more to do.

Mr Parker added: “We are determined to make sure our regulation calls out harmful and outdated practices and a new rule in the Advertising Codes will help tackle the harmful gender stereotypes identified in our review of the evidence.”