“In this way, the presence of women in ads in India reinforces traditional gender roles. This is problematic because of the inter-generational transfer of norms to children, including a lack of empowering role models for men undertaking domestic work in the home and women working in the paid workforce,” said the report titled “Gender Bias & Inclusion In Advertising In India.”
The research conducted by Unicef with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media measures the level and type of gender stereotyping found in Indian advertisements on TV and YouTube, through analysis of over 1,000 most viewed advertisements in 2019. The ads were provided and translated by the International Advertising Association (IAA). Unicef said IAA will be working with members to launch campaigns to deconstruct harmful stereotypes.
Advertisements play an important role in subconsciously shaping our social attitudes and even more so in a world in which we are constantly bombarded through all kinds of media. Ads with gender biases reinforce prejudice. But advertising can also become a key agent of changing attitudes. The marketing world needs to make the right choice.
The research also found consistent gender differences in sexualisation. Female characters are nine times more likely to be shown as ‘stunning/very attractive’ than male characters (5.9% compared with 0.6%). They are six times more likely to be shown in revealing clothing (11.2% compared with 1.7%); four times more likely to be depicted as partially nude (7.6% compared with 1.6%); and five times more likely to be sexually objectified (4.7% compared with 0.9%) than male characters.
The report also highlights “colourism”. Two-thirds of female characters (66.9%) have light or medium-light skin tones — significantly more than male characters (52.1%). “This is problematic because this advances the discriminatory notion that light skin tones are more attractive,” the analysis concludes.
Dr Yasmin Ali Haque, Unicef representative in India, said: “This report will help us challenge biases and advocate more effectively with the Indian advertising community, and across South Asia”.