I don't know about you, but shampoo commercials usually make me feel self-conscious and unaccomplished, because let's face it, who has the time for elaborate hair tricks like this one? That is, until now. Pantene Philippines has come up with an amazing new ad that flips the script. Rather than taking the traditional 'make women insecure about their split ends route,' the company sheds some light on the harmful double standards affecting women in the workplace. Warning: This commercial might not make you to buy more hair products, but it may make you want to rule the world.
The double-standards in this ad aren't just visible, they're supported by data.
Workplace gender inequality is still a thing. Although most people believe they would never hold sexist beliefs, the research shows that structural sexism is still alive and well. One study showed that a woman's name determined if she would become a judge or not. The more masculine it was, the more likely she was to rise in the ranks. And men aren't the only ones to blame. Research demonstrates that both genders perpetuate sexism in the workplace. When subjects in a recent study were given resumes, both women and men assigned lower starting salaries and lower competence to candidates who were female. So what's in a name? A lot apparently.
What underpins all of this is a concept popularized by Sheryl Sandberg, when she discussed it in a well-known Ted Talk: the "likability gap." Whereas power and likability are positively correlated for men, the opposite is true for women. The more powerful a female gets, the less she is liked. That explains the first frame in the Pantene advertisement that associates the man with the word "boss" and the female with the term "bossy." While a male superior is perceived to be persuasive, she is considered pushy.
These labels aren't only bad for women, they're bad for everyone. As most women who have experienced discrimination at work will tell you, gender inequality can be a huge threat to their productivity and success. So sexism is not just bad for ladies, it's bad for business. It also means that competent women get passed up for promotions, and less competent men get them instead. Research supports that women have more effective leadership characteristics, and yet we still don't see them as leaders.
Although this advertisement effectively takes down gender inequality, it doesn't address how racism plays into those sexist tropes. Some are asking why only lighter-skinned women were representated in an advertisement that was meant for women in the Philippines.
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