The Equality Authority previously published a background paper on gender stereotyping in the marketing of goods to children. This publication highlighted how girls are portrayed as dependent, passive and nurturing in these advertisements and how boys are portrayed as independent, aggressive, and active.
These gender stereotypes limit the choices made by boys and girls in their early formative years. These stereotypes also shape what society expects from girls and boys. In this way gender stereotyping in advertising that is targeting children lays the foundations for gender inequality and discrimination in later life.
The publication pointed out how this gender stereotyping was both pervasive and thorough within all elements of the advertising process. Gender stereotypes are being communicated to children in the language used in advertising, in the production techniques for advertisements, in the symbols and imagery used and in the portrayal and use of space in advertisements.
There is a link between stereotyping and inequalities experienced by groups and individuals. Stereotyping perpetuates generalisations and false assumption about groups.
Stereotypes can be manifested in the policies, procedures and practices of organisations and can contribute to incidents of discrimination.
This link has stimulated the Equality Authority to take action on the issue of stereotyping. Stereotyping is an issue across all of the grounds covered in the equality legislation – gender, marital status, family status, age, disability, sexual orientation, race, religion, and membership of the Traveller community.
The Equality Authority has worked with community and voluntary sector organisations to develop an action strategy entitled “Give Stereotypes the Boot”. This is being launched in the Town Hall Theatre in Galway on October 31 at the opening of an exhibition on stereotypes.
This exhibition on stereotypes is entitled “Breaking Stereotypes”. It is a product of the work of art students from across Europe. It was developed through a competition organised by the European Commission.
It provides a creative and a challenging environment to explore the issue of stereotyping and its negative impact on groups experiencing inequality.
The exhibition will be displayed in venues around the country starting with Galway. It is being hosted in Galway by the Galway City Partnership and the Equality Authority.
It will hopefully serve as a stimulus for local initiatives with the Galway City Partnership to challenge the stereotyping of groups that experience inequality.
The Equality Authority Action Strategy on stereotyping has identified employers, journalists, teachers, service providers, and advertising companies as key groups to be involved in this work of eliminating stereotypes.
The workplace and the provision of services are two key arenas where stereotyping can influence decision making and can thus disadvantage people from groups across the nine grounds covered by the equality legislation. The media, educational establishments, and advertising are three key arenas where stereotypes of these groups can be generated and communicated.
The Equality Authority will also develop guidance materials to assist employers and service providers, journalists, teachers and advertising companies in making sure that stereotypes have no influence on decision making and that there is no communication of stereotypes.
The exhibition “Breaking Stereotypes” will be in the:
Town Hall Theatre from 31st October to 6th November
Westside Library from 8th November to 14th November
Ballybane Library from 17th November to 22nd November