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Sexist advertising is still here. But these initiatives show we can change it.

November 2020

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Download: A snapshot of promising practice for addressing and preventing sexist advertising Download: Addressing and preventing sexist advertising: an analysis of local and global promising practice – full report

Sexist portrayals are still common in advertising. Women and girls remain under-represented in advertising portrayals. Advertisers persistently rely on gender stereotypes and increasingly depict women in sexualised or objectifying ways. These portrayals have been found to have serious physical and mental health implications for girls and women, as well as reinforcing violence-supportive attitudes.

In 2019, Women’s Health Victoria commissioned RMIT University to undertake research into promising practice – at a local and international level – for addressing and preventing sexist advertising.

The research provides an overview of local and international initiatives aimed at addressing or preventing sexist advertising and their strengths and limitations. Many of the case studies from the research can be found across the shEqual website.

“Addressing the long-standing issue of gender inequality in advertising will require a collaborative effort, involving industry, government and the community.”

– Dr Lauren Gurrieri, Senior Lecturer in Marketing, RMIT University

The evidence shows that no single intervention can effectively eliminate sexism or gender inequality in advertising. Industry, consumers and governments each play different but critically important roles in promoting change.

The research informed the development of Seeing is believing: A national framework for championing gender equality in advertising. This framework shows how a ‘whole-of-system’ approach is needed to make sure advertising is a force for positive change.