Any promotions depicting individuals undertaking “harmful” gender-stereotypical activities, and failing because of their sex, will be outlawed in the UK as of next year, a new ruling from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) says.
The move comes after a year-long investigation, which ruled that negative stereotypes restrict the decisions, dreams and opportunities of people, and that “these stereotypes can be reinforced by some advertising, which plays a part in unequal gender outcomes,” the advertising body writes.
Examples of the kinds of portrayals that will be banned include a woman struggling to park a car or a man being unable to change a nappy.
These narratives can contribute to the unequal gender outcomes which include widening the gender pay gap, adding to the glass ceiling, and women not going into science-related fields, the ASA says. According to the BBC, fewer than one in seven companies pay women more than men, and girls are dropping out of science university courses at alarming rates, citing sexism as a factor.
Ella Smillie, head of the ASA research, affirms this that harmful archetypes in advertisements do play a role in society. She says: “they can hold some people back from fulfilling their potential, or from aspiring to certain jobs and industries, bringing costs for individuals and the economy.”
The ban also attempts to curb clichés that negatively portray male mental health. A famously controversial KFC ad drew ire in 2014 for implying that a man who suffers from anxiety was not masculine.
The Guardian reports that the clampdown will cover magazines, newspapers, television, film, leaflets and the internet. It’s unclear how Instagram will feature in this dialogue as anxiety and depression have been linked to the image-geared social media platform.