By: Veronica Mosquera
The words “bossy” and “pushy” are typically seen in a negative light—mostly used to emphasize assertiveness and dominance. However, Nic Subtirelu, a linguistics PhD student at Georgia State University, says women are more familiar with these words than men. “Women are labeled [as] pushy about twice as frequently,” he said, “even though men are only mentioned nearly twice as frequently women.”
These words have an affect on women in the workplace—it can create negative stereotypes that hold them back from their aspirations.
Women, however, are turning to each other and to media campaigns for support. Today, advertisements no longer aim to simply sell a product, but rather tell stories and support causes. In line with this trend, women’s presence in advertising has evolved, as well as other movements towards inclusion.
BBDO for Pantene
In 2013, Pantene released an ad in the Philippines describing the differences between how men and women are described in the workforce. For example, a man who works late is described as “dedicated,” while his female counterpart is “selfish” towards her family. The spot encourages people to move past the labels and “be strong and shine.”
Verizon’s 2014 #InspireHerMind ad aims to encourage girls to explore their interests in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Women are currently employed in less than 25 percent of STEM jobs. The ad shows young girls being cautioned against getting dirty, getting too involved with their science projects or using tools. It promotes a move towards telling girls they are brilliant and capable.
Always debuted a “Like a Girl” three-minute video in 2014, a campaign for the empowerment of young girls. This ad seeks to transition “like a girl” from an insulting phrase to one that lets girls feel confident about themselves and their abilities. When asked what “like a girl” meant to them, a string of people demonstrated girls running or throwing in “girly” and sissy-like manners. In turn, when young girls were asked the same question, they acted out these motions at their strongest and best. After the ad’s overwhelming success, Procter & Gamble announced that it would premiere a condensed 60-second version of the original ad at Super Bowl. It received an extremely favorable response and continues to make a positive impact.
Known as “femvertising,” these ads continue to include pro-female messages. A panel during AdWeek 2014 discussed how the emergence of these ads is changing how female consumers react to brands. The women’s lifestyle magazine SheKnows polled 628 women about the effects of “femvertising,” and found that “91 percent of respondents believe how women are portrayed in advertising has a direct impact on girls’ self-esteem.”
Past making sales, advocating for change and fostering relationships with women is taking advertising to a new level.