Gender and Advertising

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionarypeer-review


There is a commercial imperative to take into account the gender of an advertisement’s target audience and gender is the primary segmentation variable used by advertisers to capture attention and encourage action. This entry examines reasons why gender matters to advertisers and society. It discusses how men and women often react differently to ads by dint of there being differences in how they process information, with two theories dominating this field: the Selectivity Hypothesis and the Item-specific vs. Relational Processing Model. It discusses to what extent ads can be manipulated to appeal to a particular gender, acknowledging that a commonly used strategy is to depict men in agentic roles and women in communal roles. With respect to online advertising, there appears to be a continuation of the agentic/communal distinction witnessed in offline platforms. Further, it is found that, notwithstanding some recent changes, gender stereotyping remains prevalent, particularly in relation to the portrayal of women’s occupational status and women’s portrayal in decorative roles. With that said, advertising’s role in gender stereotyping is more of a reaction to, rather than a driver of, societal values, but has been shown to be lagging behind as societies move towards more gender equality. An examination on gender stereotyping in children’s advertising reports broadly similar results to that reported by studies concerning advertising to adults. It is also agreed that men and women’s role-portrayal in advertising differs by culture, and that gender affects responses to advertising aimed at LGBT consumers.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe International Encyclopedia of Gender, Media and Communication
PublisherWiley Online Library
ISBN (Electronic)9781119429128
ISBN (Print)9781119429104
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 8 Jul 2020


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