Empowering consumers to call out sexism in advertising

Women's Health Victoria

For immediate distribution
Empowering consumers to call out sexism
in advertising
MELBOURNE – 28 November 2019

Men are strong and capable, they’re the authorities and experts, while women are domestic
goddesses or sex objects. Many consumers are tired of seeing these kinds of gender stereotypes in
advertising but feel powerless to change them.
A toolkit released today by Women’s Health Victoria (WHV) and the City of Melbourne empowers
consumers to take action.
The Reporting Sexist Advertising toolkit informs consumers about how ads are regulated in Australia,
the rules advertisers are supposed to follow, and how to make a complaint.
The resource was developed in response to recent research that showed that many community
members are concerned about the impacts of stereotyped and sexualised advertising.
The study by RMIT University and WHV found that while community members are worried about
gender portrayals in advertising, they are so common that they have become desensitised to them.
Most were unaware of where to take their complaints.
WHV CEO Dianne Hill said: “Community members have good reason to be concerned. Advertising
has a powerful influence on social norms and attitudes. The evidence shows that advertising
portrayals pressure women and men to conform to narrow stereotypes, have harmful impacts on
women’s mental health and support attitudes that contribute to violence against women.”
The toolkit is part of a larger project, Advertising (in)equality, which aims to address sexism in
advertising. WHV and the City of Melbourne, along with members of the advertising industry,
businesses, academics, activists and community members are partners in the project, which is
funded by the Victorian Government.
Ms Hill said: “We can all play a role in change. By supporting consumers to speak up, we can improve
the way women and girls are portrayed in advertising and promote their health and wellbeing.”
View Reporting sexist advertising: A toolkit for consumers on the Women’s Health Victoria website.
/Public Release.