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Closing The Gap – What Brands Can Do To Help Drive Gender Balance

March 4, 2019

Closing The Gap – What Brands Can Do To Help Drive Gender Balance

With International Women’s Day coming up on this Friday (8th March) and this year’s theme being #Balanceforbetter, here at BrandHook we’ve been thinking about the role of brands and their contributions towards helping achieve gender equality.

A recent talk by social commentator and author of ‘Accidental Feminists’ Jane Caro, hosted by Verve Super – Australia’s first super fund for women, by women – got me thinking…

Why do men still obtain so many advantages in the 21st century?

Here’s what I believe brands and organisations need to do more of to help move towards a more gender-balanced world.


“Don’t they think girls eat cereal, Mum?” was the question Jane Caro’s young daughter asked her after watching yet another TV commercial for breakfast cereal. Jane Caro was working in advertising at the time and made it one of her missions to increase the (then miniscule) number of girls being featured in ads, overcoming criticism that ‘…while little girls will happily identify with boys, boys will not do the same with girls’ (Jane Caro, Accidental Feminists). While the girl/boy ration in ads has improved over the years, we still have a long way to go. Some brands are really leading the way and we’re seeing some recent excellent examples of ads with messages around female empowerment and equality – Nike’s ‘Dream crazier’ ad narrated by Serena Williams and Uncle Toby’s ‘Great grows here’ campaign featuring AFLW star Sabrina Frederick-Traub – more of this please.


In 2017 Clarks received huge amount of backlash from outraged parents after they launched two pairs of school shoes – one for girls called ‘Dolly Babe’ and another for boys called ‘Leader’ (Jane Caro, Accidental Feminists) – not helping Clarks! Toy company Mattel on the other hand recently announced they’re launching a new line of Barbie dolls, in partnership with National Geographic, focused on occupations that women are underrepresented in (like science, exploration, research). GM of the Barbie brand Lisa McKnight: “Barbie allows girls to try on new roles through storytelling by showing them they can be anything…”. Way to go Barbie! Let’s lose the pink outfit next time though!

Figure 1. Clarks shoes ‘Dolly Babe’ and ‘Leader’           Figure 2. Mattel & National Geographic Barbie


Women make up 51% of our population, yet only 29% of movies have female protagonists (2016). That just doesn’t add up, does it? We need more movies featuring strong female characters so that little girls growing up have strong female role models they can relate to. The reason we are seeing so few movies with women in leading roles might also be driven by the fact that female film directors still get very little recognition for their work – with only one woman (Kathryn Bigelow, in 2010 for ‘The Hurt Locker’) having won an Oscar for Best Director since 1929… Greta Gerwig (Director, ‘Lady Bird’) was overlooked in 2018 and in 2019 not even one female filmmaker was nominated for Best Director, and none of the 8 movies nominated for Best Picture were directed by women – surely we can do better than that?

To achieve gender equality, brands and companies need to be supported by state and federal government initiatives. One key issue that needs to be addressed is closing the superannuation gap – on average women retire with almost half the amount of superannuation compared to their male peers. Leading to the fact that women over 55 are now the fastest growing cohort of homeless people in Australia. The main reason for women retiring with less super is the time out they took from the workforce to care for their young children. Recently there is a growing push to compensate carers (whether women or men) for this time out of the workforce with ‘carer credits’ to their superannuation. A move into the right direction!

We hope that with more brands jumping on board the gender-equality band wagon we get to see more young girls pursuing their dreams.

Written by Corinna 

The Task: Understand how to develop and launch a cider to get the attention of wine drinkers What our client said: “BrandHook’s approach of getting into people’s homes and talking about the concept amongst groups of friends, really got us to closer to the people we were developing this for. This gave us clear direction Continue reading

This week, Pip Stocks joined The Small Spark Theory Podcast with Lucy Mann to talk all things about thought leadership, service innovation, closing the gap and how to market your agency.  To listen to the podcast click here.  


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