June 2020 (Vol. 60, Issue 2): GENDER AND DIVERSITY
Effects of Nonstereotyped Occupational Gender Role Portrayal in Advertising: How Showing Women in Male-Stereotyped Job Roles Sends Positive Signals about Brands
Stereotypical depictions of men and women in advertising have been prevalent throughout the last 50 years. Up until this study, there was no in-depth research examining their effects, with the exception of tentative industry studies that showed positive impact. Authors Karina T. Liljedal, Hanna Berg and Micael Dahlen (all at Stockholm School of Economics) corroborated those findings in three empirical studies. Their results “demonstrate the positive brand-related and social effects of nonstereotyped occupational gender-role portrayals in advertising on respondents, regardless of their gender.” When respondents in Sweden and the U.K. were shown women “in occupational roles that were stereotyped as masculine … the effects were overwhelmingly positive.”
Among their findings:
- Advertisers may use nonstereotyped occupational gender-role portrayals to achieve signaling effects.
- This is in line with how consumers make inferences about brands and their offerings on the basis of how they advertise.
- Social connectedness, in turn, has a positive impact on attitudes toward the ad and the brand.
- This lends support to the growing interest in how advertising may have a positive impact on both society and advertisers.
The study noted that “when brands do something beyond what is expected, positive results emerge because of consumers’ perceptions of brand effort and brand ability.” Even though the results did not differ for the countries that were studied, the authors warn that gender stereotypes will still have cultural variations that need to be further studied. Future research also should include males in female-stereotyped roles and should “investigate cultural differences in how consumers respond to occupational gender-role depictions in advertising.”