Gender stereotypes are alive and well and play a role in perpetuating the persistent gender pay gap.
A majority of women (60 percent) believe gender stereotypes affect their careers, lives or both, according to a survey of 9,000 male and female workers by Unilever. The employees come from eight different countries: The United Kingdom, Turkey, India, Brazil, Argentina, Kenya, Indonesia and the United States.
Just under half of men (49 percent) say the same thing.
Large majorities of men and women acknowledged that many men in power likely do not want to be joined in the C-suite by women.
Two-thirds of women say they feel pressured to deal with inappropriate behavior on the job, while 55 percent of men and 64 percent of women say that men are unlikely to vocally object to bad behavior by male peers.
Sadly, many of those surveyed not only recognize the persistence of stereotypes, but appear to subscribe to them. Seventy-seven percent of men and 55 percent of women believe that men are best-equipped to “lead a high stakes project.”
In search of solutions to reduce prevailing gender attitudes, Unilever asked respondents whether they believe whether portrayals in media in general and advertising specifically could improve the situation. Seventy percent say the “world would be a better place” if today’s children were not exposed to gender stereotypes in marketing.
There has been a growing movement in recent years to discourage gender stereotypes in marketing. One notable example last year came from Heidi Zak, founder of ThirdLove, a bra company, who started a campaign to protest Calvin Klein over its billboards that Zak said portrayed male models as workers and female models as sex objects.
Andrew Puzder, the fast-food executive who President Donald Trump has nominated to be secretary of labor, has also faced criticism over the portrayal of women in ads for Hardee’s. The chain’s ad campaigns have often featured scantily clad women eating burgers.
“We’ve seen first-hand the powerful role that advertising can play in shaping social norms and stereotypes and launched #Unstereotype to address this,” says Keith Weed, who heads Unilever’s marketing division, in a statement accompanying the study’s release. “This new research further underlines the importance of addressing stereotypes in the workplace and beyond.”