Portrayal of women in Advertisements - gender bias and mean attitude of the society?

Portrayal of women in Advertisements – does it demonstrate a gender bias and mean attitude of the society?

When promotional events are held for advertising cars, how many of you have seen an attractive male model standing alongside? Generally, it is curvaceous women of different nationalities who are part of advertising campaigns to sell everything from luxury cars to sports goods. What is worrying is that most advertisers portray women in scant clothing and use this to sell their products.

Gender bias can only reflect in advertisements if it exists within the society of a nation. Gender equity has not been achieved all over the world. Women are still subjected to abuse and exploitation in different parts of the world. Negative and stereotypical portrayal of women in print ads and commercials is just one of the ways this is done.


• Indian advertising is replete with instances of women being used in derogatory and subservient ways to promote a variety of products. Some brave advertisers have attempted to give women more respectful roles in commercials and ads. Certain ads even carry powerful social messages and empower women by depicting them with respect and sincerity.

It is through the evolution of society that sexist advertising will eventually cease to exist, but advertisers can certainly hasten the process by ensuring that their ads do not reflect any gender bias.

• Consumerism is a key to attracting investment and promoting economic growth in the country. If tasteless advertisements portraying women in poor light are used, they will fall flat with important consumer segments. Advertisers should remember this if they want their products to sell. Ads nowadays continue to portray women in a negative way that reflects the mean attitude of society.

Fair skin is touted as the prize to be won and many celebrities participate in demeaning ads which promote unrealistic standards of beauty. Fairness cream ads always show women with dark complexions as being at a huge disadvantage. This is ludicrous and racist. It shows how bigoted and narrow minded Indian society is capable of being.

• The most worry trend is the manner in which many ads depict women as being incapable of thinking or acting for themselves. Some ads which do not reflect this attitude and are refreshing change from the mainstream include the TVS Scooty commercials. Advertisers who are not afraid to give women characters in their ads the power to be independent and smart are gradually changing ladies are being represented in commercials now.

• With so many changes happening within Indian society, ads should now start reflecting what the reality is rather than sticking to traditional stereotypes. Women today are modern, progressive, independent, and intelligent. They are the essence of economic growth and social progress in our country. Ads should reflect this changing trend rather than clinging to outdated notions of what is means to be an Indian woman.

What is most disheartening is that Indian women continue to be portrayed in negative terms and outmoded belief systems colour the advertising campaigns and commercials nowadays. Rather than sticking to stereotypes, ads that challenge the mainstream conventions are emerging steadily to bring about a change.

It is hoped that they will continue to take a more progressive and enlightened course than their colleagues. This will change the face of advertising in India for the better.
Post your comment


  • RE: Portrayal of women in Advertisements – gender bias and mean attitude of the society? -Deepa Kaushik (05/05/14)
  • Portrayal of woman in advertisements is a normal phenomenon and quite acceptable. But including woman in advertisements which don’t require a woman to be portrayed is definitely a mean attitude, though not of the society, but because of the public demand.

    It is not fair to include a female in each and every advertisement. This is done in order to attract the potential customers and make a deep impact regarding the product. Not only the portrayal but also the dressing sense highly makes the difference. The meanness gets projected by the manner the advertisement portrays a female. The clothing should go with the personality and comfort factor of the female, rather than making undue exposure an essential inclusion in the advert.

    Gender biasness comes from the opportunities that a female receive in comparison to men. Most of the commercials aim at either attracting females and children or undue inclusion of the females to bring up the rating of the advertisement. The advertisement industry should take necessary steps to improve the quality of their service by removing this gender biasness and provide a clean image of the product to be advertised.
  • Portrayal of women in Advertisements – gender bias and mean attitude of the society? -Lubna Lakdawala (04/02/14)
  • Portrayal of women in Advertisements - demonstrate a gender bias and mean attitude of the society?

    In the world of advertising, the objective of the marketer is to make their product look good and thus they use anything to make their product more sellable. They want their products to look better than their competitors. To achieve this, they sometimes make their products appear more beneficial than they actually are.

    In today’s advertising world women are often stereotyped. We often come across an advertisement where an attractive woman is doing household chores or they are just used as stand-in for a male oriented advertisement. Though on the rise, it is still very rare to see a woman portrayed in a position of power in advertisements.

    Gender bias and differences are not a new phenomenon. Historical evidence has revealed that even earlier there were separate roles for men and women. But since advertizing is considers as a modern and advanced profession thus there should be no biases in it. Men and women should be treated equally. The woman of today should be portrayed in a more realistic manner rather typically shown doing household chores or a scantily clad woman is accompanying the product.

    The portrayal of women in advertisements being less than grand, the question arises that what effect does it have on the attitudes of the people? It is an undisputed fact that Advertisements thus play an important role in influencing the society. The gender bias towards women in advertisements is distorting the perceptions about women. Young girls become unsatisfied with their looks after looking the models in advertisements. The children also see these pictures and they are also the ones who create stereotypes in their minds about the different roles of men and women.

    Advertisers who still believe that women are still the only ones doing household need to rethink. They need to think out of the box and come up something new rather showing the same concepts in different formats. The portrayal of women in advertisements must change and fast. The women of the 21st century has multiple role, advertisements should start portraying women in different roles of power.