Breaking Stereotypes in the Advertising and Media Industry

Gender stereotyping in media and in the advertising industry often contributes to negative portrayal of women and girls. These negative stereotypes and limited portrayals of women and girls have been shown to contribute to harmful attitudes that inhibit the role and potential of women and contribute to the continuation of gender inequality.

The impact of media and advertising is so powerful in shaping negative stereotypes of both men and women that they perpetuate discriminatory social norms that are a barrier to gender inequality. Moreover, the role models that women and girls are provided with are often so biased, unrealistic and unattainable that they can lead to depression and impact their mental and physical health and wellbeing.

On June 22, UN Women announced a collaborative effort at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity to proactively address and eliminate stereotypes in advertising. This new initiative, The Unstereotype Alliance, was co-convened with Unilever to urge industry leaders to move advertising away from stereotypical representation of gender. In addition, UN Women will conduct the first Tracking Study on Gender Equality Attitudes to be conducted with support from WPP, and sponsored by P&G, AT&T, Johnson & Johnson, Unilever and others.

Attitudinal change towards gender equality is a key driver of progress and change around the world. “We need to gather firm data on attitudes towards gender equality within the industry,” said UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. “This evidence will fuel political will and financial muscle for change. UN Women expects the study to provide the insights necessary to inform change on policy and education, and also lead to more accurate portrayal of both women and men in advertising itself."

The Metropolitan NY chapter is planning an event, co-sponsored with Global Women4Wellness (GW4W), entitled Women in the Media: Breaking Stereotypes, which will take place on July 18 at the Steelcase WorkLife Center, from 6:00–8:00pm. The event will feature Marianne Schnall (writer, interviewer and blogger for the Huffington Post and executive director of, Leslie Jane Seymour (former editor-in-chief of Redbook, Marie Claire, and MORE magazines), as well as Maria Sanchez, media officer at UN Women in New York. Please join us in this timely event to discuss how to break stereotypes for women in media.



Mikki Brammer