Tough new rules on gender stereotyping in advertising are being introduced to end outdated expectations of women cleaning and washing while men struggle to do basic domestic duties.
These stereotypes can be harmful and help drive “unfair outcomes” particularly for younger people, according to research cited by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
The report: Deceptions, Perceptions and Harm concludes a tougher line is needed on adverts which feature gender stereotyping.
Report author Ella Smiley told Sky News: “We know that depicting gender stereotypes in ads has the potential to reinforce expectations as to how groups or individuals should look or behave because of their gender – and that can have a potentially harmful effect on the way people consider their own aspirations and potential, as well as their expectations as to how others should behave.”
The new standards will not stop all stereotyping but they will ban certain scenarios.
For example, a woman with sole responsibility for clearing up family mess, a man failing to do basic household chores, or an advert suggesting an activity is inappropriate for boys or girls because it is often associated with the other sex.
Ms Smiley added: “Our focus is on ensuring ads don’t mislead, harm or offend.
“So we’ll be using everything we’ve learnt from this report to offer new standards, ensuring that new ads don’t contain anything that could potentially be harmful.
“The industry will be using these standards to do what it does best – to create fantastic ads.”
Image: In this historical advert, the script goes: A mum is someone who says ‘Big boys don’t cry’
The issue is a hot topic within many advertising agencies who now realise that the days when the man took a leading role in adverts is long over.
Jamie Williams, a partner at London-based Isobel, said: “I think now we talk about this a lot and we understand it a lot.
“Certainly within our agency, looking at roles within the content we produce is really important so are we reflecting society accurately, who are, what is the make up of our cast.”
The new standards will come into force next year and any ad in breach of the rules will be withdrawn.
Many have welcomed the decision to strengthen the existing regulations.
Psychologist Emma Kenny said: “We need to regulate marketing and advertising standards so that they start to represent the reality of what it’s like to be a human being.
“And that means removing the restrictions that they place, funnelling girls down one route funnelling boys down the other because ultimately the majority of individuals fall somewhere in between.
“It is the marketers that have created those gender stereotypes.”