Eliminating ads with gender stereotypes will support female leaders

Gender equality starts with the removal of unconscious bias that impedes women from entering the boardroom, says Lorraine Mills

The 2019 SDG Gender Index, the first index tracking gender equality, has revealed that no country in the world is on the way to achieving gender equality by 2030. The report shows that even developed countries are failing on issues such as gender budgeting, equal representation in powerful positions, and gender pay gaps, leaving women in all countries struggling for equality. Despite these negative findings, some progress is being made to facilitate change in the United Kingdom, which is expected to eliminate some of the barriers women face. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned adverts that reinforce negative gender stereotypes as they restrict the choices, aspirations and opportunities of children, young people and adults and contributes to the lack of gender equality in society.
Lorraine Mills, Director of European Professional Services at The Myers-Briggs Company, one of the world’s largest business psychology providers commented that: “With the latest reported figures on FTSE100 boards showing that the percentage of women in leadership positions has declined for the fourth year, it is clear that a lack of diversity is one of the key issues preventing women from progressing in their career. The new regulations from the ASA to eliminate negative stereotypes in ads is a positive move towards gender equality in society at large and the workplace. Research has shown that media reinforcing negative gender stereotypes has a negative impact on women’s aspirations and outcomes so this shift in advertising standards is a great step in rebalancing.”

Research conducted by The Myers-Briggs Company has shown that 70% of women in leadership roles tend to use the ‘Thinking’ preference to make decisions in the workplace – a preference that is usually more common in men. Further down the occupational levels, women tend to exhibit a more even split between ‘Thinking’ and ‘Feeling’ preferences. This reinforces the notion that women must exhibit behaviours that are more typically associated with men to be considered for top jobs, as leadership has long been recognised as culturally masculine. For men, the research indicates that around 80% have a Thinking preference at all occupational levels. 

Lorraine Mills further commented that: “Our research reveals some worrying tendencies around workplace diversity and perceptions of female leaders. While the new ad regulations go some way to support equality in the workplace, employers need to do more to level the playing field. At The Myers-Briggs Company, we advocate for the importance of improving self-awareness amongst all employees because we know that this can help counter unconscious bias that might exclude anyone from entering the race.”

Mills concluded: “Although the removal of negative gender stereotypes is a welcome move, we need to acknowledge the years it has taken to establish and perpetuate the dated, sexist and unfounded stereotypes embedded in our society. While banning these types of ads will be helpful in the long run, communities and organisations cannot rely on it alone to make societal change. To achieve true equality, our institutions and companies must take an active role and invest in developing their people to build self-awareness and learn how to appreciate the value of diversity of background, perspective and experience to create a positive and successful environment for all. This will not only open the door for more women to succeed but enable everyone to be more successful inside and outside of work.”


About The Myers-Briggs Company 
In our fast-changing world, your edge lies in harnessing 100 percent of your talent – whether you’re at work, home, school, college, or anywhere in between. Your success and sense of fulfilment aren’t just about what you know and what you can do, they hinge on your relationships and interactions with others. The Myers-Briggs Company empowers individuals to be the best versions of themselves by enriching self-awareness and their understanding of others. We help organisations around the world improve teamwork and collaboration, develop inspirational leaders, foster diversity and solve their most complex people challenges. As a certified B Corp (and a registered California Benefit Corporation), The Myers-Briggs Company is a force for good. Our powerfully practical solutions are grounded in a deep understanding of the significant social and technological trends that affect people and organisations. With over 60 years in assessment development and publishing, and over 30 years of consultancy and training expertise, a global network of offices, partners and certified independent consultants in 115 countries, products in 29 languages, and experience working with 88 of the Fortune 100 companies, we’re ready to help you succeed.


Media Contacts:

Hiwot Wolde-Senbet,
Flagship Consulting
Claire Nelson,
Flagship Consulting
Natasha Cobby,
Flagship Consulting
+44 207 680 7104

Petra Merne
The Myers-Briggs Company
+44 1865 404584