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Women's Health Victoria releases research report on gender equality in advertising

Women’s Health Victoria has collaborated with the advertising industry, brands, regulators, and community members to address sexism in advertising. In 2020, WHV introduced 'shEqual,' an initiative that promotes gender equality in advertising. This comprehensive approach acknowledges the importance of taking action at all levels, including the advertising industry, government, and community.

The report on the research, ‘Behind the Ads Advertising Professionals’ Perspectives on Gender Equality in the workplace’ has been produced for Women’s Health Victoria’s shEqual project by Empirica Research in partnership with RMIT University.

Advertisements shape our beliefs, values, attitudes, and behaviours, influencing our perception of gender roles and societal value. Research based on the shEqual Survey reveals that advertising has consistently marginalised and objectified women, reinforcing gender inequalities. Such portrayals contribute to disparities in various aspects of life, such as education, income, and employment, further deepening gender divides.

The Behind the Ads report highlights five key issues:

  • Establishing a shared understanding of gender equality;

  • Addressing sexist workplace cultures;

  • Ensuring equal employment conditions and support;

  • Eliminating the production of sexist advertising content;

  • Clarifying the role of men in driving change.

To promote industry-wide engagement with gender equality, the report suggests the following actions:

  • Implement practical policies to combat discrimination, bullying, and sexual harassment in the workplace;

  • Establish a transparent procedure for reporting discriminatory or sexist behavior;

  • Encourage public commitments to equality from managers, executives, and creative directors;

  • Provide gender equality training for all employees to foster safer workplaces and gender equal advertisements;

  • Offer training and resources to empower men to actively support gender equity at work and in life.

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