Underrepresentation of women in advertising

Where are all the women?

Women represent one half of the global population. They make 70-80% of all purchasing decisions. Yet the people portrayed in advertising are predominantly male.

The missing women in advertising

Not only is the gender ratio far from equal, but a limited range of representations means that most women don’t see themselves portrayed accurately by the female characters that do appear. Many women don’t see themselves at all.

The token minority

The majority of ads show individuals who are white, able-bodied and heterosexual. When people from minority groups do appear, representation tends to be based on negative stereotypes.

Forever young

Most ads feature younger people. Older women are often only cast in relation to health and beauty products, with ageing being framed as unhealthy, ugly, and undesirable. Women of all ages feel pressured to remain looking youthful and mask all signs of ageing.

J Walter Thompson global study finding that 85% of women want real world advertising portrayals

Women, represent

Unequal representation of women reinforces the power and authority of men. Unrealistic representation of society perpetuates discrimination and disadvantage.

But diverse, respectful and accurate representation of women in advertising helps move us all towards equality.

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