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Ellen Hammett 

Three quarters of women feel stereotyped in ads

Three quarters of women feel stereotyped in ads

A new study into the representation of women in ads reveals that 77% of females find the way women are generally portrayed in advertising to be stereotypical, with 65% of men agreeing.

When asked which stereotypical representations they found to be most common in advertising, ‘bimbo’, ‘domestic goddess’, ‘shopaholic’, ‘it girl’ and ‘housewife’ all made the list - with 68% of women finding the ‘bimbo’ portrayal most offensive.

The report, Women in Ads, was carried out by media agency UM among 2,000 Brits aged 13 and over. It follows the recent announcement that the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is planning to crack down on adverts that reinforce gender stereotypes.

Half of the women surveyed (49%) agreed that they feel pressure from adverts to act and be a certain way, while 44% said ads often made them feel like they’re not good enough.

Meanwhile, 46% of male respondents said they had felt the need to look or behave in a certain way because of how they are represented in advertising. The most common pressures cited were needing to be seen as unemotional, strong, ‘laddy’, sporty and a ‘breadwinner’.

“There seems to be a widespread problem in how brands portray women - and men - in their advertising," said Michael Brown, insight director at UM.

"As the ASA report noted, stereotyping is rife and has been for years. It’s not just potentially offensive, it’s lazy. Companies that can’t come up with ads without the need to reinforce 20th or even 19th Century gender stereotypes are just going to turn customers away.”

The research also revealed that seeing brands advertise on certain sexist media channels could damage those business image. The most sexist media environments were identified by UK women as red-top newspapers (71%), reality TV (58%), comedy platforms (41%) and women’s magazines (38%).

“Advertiser brands need to be sensitive and aware of not just what they’re saying to women, but where and how they’re saying it," Brown added.

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