John Lewis And Gender Parity

John Lewis has a new advert and lots of people are salivating over it. They are getting all excited because they love the JL brand and won’t hear a bad word against it. They are ‘mesmirised’ and impressed saying it is ‘the best ever’.

I hate it.

The advert adopts an astronaut theme and unashamedly appropriates Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody to win over consumers.

It’s strap-line picture on its Twitter page and adverts in national newspapers shows a boy dressed as an astronaut ‘commander’ and a girl dressed in a robot.

Sigh, sigh and sigh again.

It’s 2018 and this sort of lop-sided, lazy and sexist advertising is still happening folks. It’s like going back 40 years when boys played with an Action Man and girls interacted with anything pink.

Young girls pick up on messages like this and John Lewis have fallen short. If you want to achieve gender parity and democratise science then John Lewis have shown those of us living in the 21st Century how not to do it.

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), an advisory body to the regulator of adverts in the UK, says gender stereotypes ‘limit how people see themselves and the life decisions they take’. Well, I think they should take a look at John Lewis and Partners.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) carried out research into gender stereotyping within advertising.

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In their report Depictions, Perceptions and Harm they found

Gender stereotyping in ads has the potential to harm and offend, which could have serious implications for children and young people in particular. The participants believed that the advertising industry has a responsibility to the general public, but should not lose its creativity.

We are fighting hard to encourage more girls into STEM and to achieve greater equality yet this message says, “Boys are astronauts and girls follow instructions like robots” – disagree? Well, why not have a boy and girl astronaut on the advert? Why must the boy be a ‘commander’? What does that make the girl? What’s her role?

This is another example of archaic ‘dark ages’ advertising and John Lewis have missed an opportunity to promote girls as equals to boys.

If we want to encourage girls to become astronauts and be the first to step on Mars, then John Lewis have put the brakes on their ambition by portraying boys as masters of the universe – girls can take a back seat or stop at home.

The power of advertising to challenge gender stereotypes is a huge – shame JL didn’t realise that.

And one more thing from the Stemettes…..”Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live” – Dr Mae Jemison, NASA Astronaut.

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