Gender Diversity in Advertising – by Katie Ghee, Lindsey Meisheid, Lauryn Allman

Gender diversity in advertising has become a prevalent issue in today’s fight for gender equality. For many years women have been fighting within the marketing and advertising industry for equal representation in commercials and even landing jobs working behind the scenes. A lot of progress has been made with integrating more representation of women into advertising, however there is still more work to be done. There are, on average, twice as many men shown in an advertisement than women and men have about three times the amount of speaking time than women. While women are underrepresented within the advertising world, they are also stereotypically sexualized for the work that they are chosen for. It’s no secret that sex appeal is one of the largest selling aspects in today’s marketing world, and while this is also true for men, it is more predominant among women displayed in advertisements. 

This problem is important to us as women because it impacts our future in the world of marketing and how women are continued to be seen in the advertising world. We want for our own daughters to have the same opportunities that men do in the work field and to view themselves as more than a selling tactic. This issue matters because even though much work has been done and progress has been made for women in advertising, it continues to be an issue that needs to be addressed. 

The representation of women in advertising goes back decades to when they didn’t even have rights. It’s an issue that affects not just us, our sisters and mothers today, but our daughters and granddaughters will also have to face this. American women are also not the only women that are marginalized by the advertising industry. Black, Asian, and Hispanic/Latino women are facing the same fight for equal representation in the industry, but they have to fight a little harder. For the small percentage of females that are in advertising, there is an even smaller percentage of women who are Black, Asian, and/or Hispanic/Latino. This is not just a local issue within the United States, the representation and sexualization of women can be found in other countries all around the world. It remains unknown why this issue remains relevant in the time of gender equality. Women make up nearly half of marketers in the United States and make most of the buying decisions in households. With this, why do women still have to fight to be represented and not sexualized? 

As women who are pursuing degrees in communications with an interest in entering a career in the marketing industry, this issue is personal. Knowing that people of our gender are looked down on and not seen as equals to males in the field we want to begin a career in can be disheartening. There are many women around the world who feel the same way. On a societal level, the consequences of the low representation and high sexualization of women can set us back in the gender equality movement. We as a society have come so far in fighting for equal rights and representation as men and can’t risk setbacks in any aspects including advertising. 

The inequality women face remains constant, despite the growing movements of feminism/female activism that we see as events such as the annual Women’s March. No matter the role, women experience being exploited, not taken seriously and looked over simply due to the fact that there’s stigmatization around being a woman. There are ways in which we can move forward with this issue, ways to open doors for women that have been so often shut in our faces, specifically within the world of advertising. One of the clear solutions moving forward is simply to hire more women, this seems to be a no brainer, but more men are represented in advertising as we stated in the introduction paragraph. Not only hiring more women, but committing to hiring diverse women – this is not an isolated issue to one community. Another solution to this would be reshaping the methods companies use for advertising at the very beginning, with the creative teams. Gone are the days of sexualized commercials for fast food restaurants, which make no sense by the way, the ‘sexual’ cop out is degrading and overdone. If advertising methods are redrawn in the initial stages, it’ll become the normalized way to go about creating unique, efficient advertisements for brands. These are only two solutions suggested to an ever growing issue, as women in Communications we are working to be a generation of storytellers that no longer feel the need to use women when they are convenient for our advertising plot lines. 

Katie Ghee, Lindsey Meisheid, Lauryn Allman
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