As the advertising industry begins to examine how it portrays gender in its work and tackle decades-long stereotypes, Sarah May, Senior Planner at 303MullenLowe in Sydney, believes the work to rethink gender in advertising should be much more than just a tokenistic effort to push diversity.

“It's actually bigger than that. It's for those minds – the young, impressionable minds – that eventually will see comms, advertising, and see their world narrow because of bad stereotypes,” May said at the Mumbrella360 conference in Sydney recently.

Both genders are victims of stereotyping in creative work: May noted that men are often grouped into hyper-masculine, the fat guy, the “six-ab guy”, or the bloke's bloke – none of which represent men well either. It doesn't stop there: research released in 2017 by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and agency network J. Walter Thompson analysed more than 2,000 films from the Cannes Lions archive (English language only) from between 2006 and 2016. The research found that overall, men get about four times as much screen time as women and speak about seven times more than women.