Depictions, perceptions and harm

A report on gender stereotypes in advertising
Advertising Gender stereotypes Sexism Sex discrimination United Kingdom

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) independently administers the UK Advertising Codes. This report considers whether, in line with their regulatory objectives, the Committees of Advertising Practice and ASA are doing enough to address the potential for harm or offence arising from the inclusion of gender stereotypes in ads.

Key findings:

  • Evidence presented in the report indicates support for the ASA‘s track record of banning ads that objectify or inappropriately sexualise women and girls, and ads that suggest it is acceptable for young women to be unhealthily thin.
  • However, the evidence suggests that a tougher line needs to be taken on ads that feature stereotypical gender roles or characteristics, which through their content and context may be potentially harmful to people. This includes ads that mock people for not conforming to gender stereotypes.
  • It would be inappropriate and unrealistic to prevent ads from, for instance, depicting a woman cleaning, but new standards on gender stereotypes might elaborate on the types of treatments that might be problematic.


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