Alongside other forms of media, advertising shapes and reinforces gendered ideas about what it means to be a woman or man and how women and men are valued in our society.
Research shows that advertising has historically under-represented girls and women and depicted them in stereotyped ways and that, over time, portrayals of girls and women have become more sexualised and objectifying. These depictions have negative impacts on women’s health and wellbeing, contribute to the attitudes and behaviours that drive violence against women and help to perpetuate gender inequality in our society more broadly.
Because advertising is so influential, it also has the potential to positively transform gender norms and to support and normalise gender equality. For many years, community groups, academics and industry activists – including Women’s Health Victoria – have been raising awareness about stereotyping and sexualisation in advertising and advocating for change.
In an Australian first, Women’s Health Victoria has been funded by the Victorian Government to engage industry, businesses, regulators, academics, activists and community members to build support for action to end sexism in advertising. To deliver this project, we are collaborating with expert partners Our Watch, Domestic Violence Victoria, RMIT University, City of Melbourne, Collective Shout and Venus Comms.
The project aims to
Consolidate the evidence on the impacts of gender inequality in advertising
Engage and bring together key stakeholders in the advertising industry, business, regulation and the community
Translate the evidence & educate the community
We are establishing a cross-sectoral Reference Group to help guide the project. In addition to the seven project partners, we are looking to engage a broader group of new partners from the advertising industry (creative agencies), business (who commission advertisements), consumer representatives, organisations with expertise in intersectional approaches, prevention practitioners, government representatives, and other relevant experts
The Reference Group will provide advice on how best to engage and build the capacity of advertising agencies, peak bodies, business, regulators, prevention practitioners and the community to take action on gender inequality in advertising. Reference Group members will also have an opportunity to provide input into key project deliverables.
It is expected that the Reference Group will meet approximately every two months until September 2019 (and potentially beyond this, subject to funding). Some additional communication with the Reference Group may be required between meetings and will take place via email or an appropriate online platform.
To find out more, view our issues paper Advertising (in)equality: the impacts of gender inequality in advertising on women's health and wellbeing
To find out more about the project or for general enquires, contact the Senior Project Officer If you are interested in joining the Project Reference Group, fill in the expression of interest form here.