We Need Better Representation for Women in Advertising and Media

A recent survey exposed the stark gap between men’s and women’s presence in advertisements from 2021-2022. Women occupied 57.3% of ads, while men took up 42.7%. Projections suggest that by 2028, women will control 75% of discretionary income in America. At first, this news appears to be a victory for women’s rights, but a closer look reveals that the increase does not include high representation of diverse groups such as dark-skinned women or elderly women, revealing that the media and advertising industry is still struggling with creating more progressive representations of all kinds of women.

To create content that is more representative of women, it’s important to assess the current level of female representation and identify areas where progress can be made. This helps reduce disparities and promote equality in media representation.

The following statistics highlight the current representation of women:

  • Women with dark skin are 80% less likely to feature in ads than those with lighter tones (CreativeX).
  • Ad spending on women aged 60+ was below 1% in 2022 (CreativeX).
  • 55% of Asian women feel misrepresented in advertising (Unilever).
  • Dark-skinned females receive 4x less ad spend than light-skinned males in leadership roles (CreativeX).
  • Men are 1.5x more likely to speak in ads than women (Think with Google).
  • Younger women (in their 20s and 30s) are consistently featured in ads, while male characters are shown across all age groups (Think with Google).
  • Women are 46% more likely to be cast for domestic roles (CreativeX).
  • In 2022, female lead characters increased by 4% in children’s shows but were still objectified compared to males (Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media).

What’s causing the gap in gender and representation parity, and how can brands make a positive impact?

Women remain underrepresented in the media due to a lack of intersectionality. Brands, therefore, must recognize that a woman is never just one thing; she can be Asian and a professional or lesbian and a leader all at once. Failing to represent these facets of a woman’s life will lead to negative portrayals and disconnect with as many as two-thirds of female audiences who are turned off by such misrepresentation. Only by creating authentic content that reflects women’s multifaceted roles can brands create real connections with their female consumers.

According to She Runs It, a non-profit advocating for women in marketing, media, and tech, the talent pool of women in these sectors shrank by 27% between 2021-2022. Additionally, white women often had better chances of climbing the corporate ladder than Black, Latina, and Asian women. The pay gap between men and women was also noticeable.

To tackle this gender disparity, brands could deliberately recruit qualified female candidates from all walks of life and create training initiatives such as mentorship programs or internal networking events. With more female leaders on board, companies can promote an inclusive culture that pays tribute to various identities and reflects authentic images of modern women in their ads.

Brands looking to invest in the future of women should consider partnering with Dream It, Be It: Career Support for Girls. This program seeks to equip young girls with the necessary tools and resources to pursue their dream careers by offering workshops and mentorship opportunities. Through this investment, companies can help break down gender barriers in media and ensure a more equitable representation of women in their industry. By cultivating strong female leaders today, they will also be able to create positive change in the long run.

Learn how to get involved and support girls on their way to successful careers.

Fran Dasso has been a freelance content writer for over 5 years. She enjoys writing about anything from business to children’s literature. Her portfolio includes articles, blogs, copywriting, and even the publishing of her own children’s book. Based in Northern Virginia, Fran is passionate about helping small to large companies reach success through the power of words.

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