Breaking the stereotype of the ‘hapless dad’
The shift to equality both at home and in the workplace is fundamental cultural change which should be top of the agenda within the creative industries. Yet the Advertising Standard’s Authority’s (ASA) decision to ban Philadelphia’s recent advert suggests the industry is in danger of simply replacing one stereotype with another.
The ad was one of the first spots to be banned by the ASA as part of its gender stereotyping guidelines. In the ad the ‘tired working mother’ trope was replaced by a somewhat hapless dad, with two fathers losing their babies because they were so enamoured with their Philadelphia cheese-laden bagels.
These stereotypes cause real-world harm and according to research from the Nuffield Foundation, fathers are twice as likely than mothers to have requests for flexible working turned down.
Alison Green, Managing Director of WOMBA Group, explained, “Since I had my children a couple of decades ago, it’s been great to see the positive changes for working mums. But what about the dads? All parents should have the opportunity to combine working with raising their family in a way that is equitable, doesn’t disadvantage them and allows them to balance their responsibilities at home or at work.”
Xavier hopes that the campaign will begin to reduce discrimination against women of a childbearing age and mark the end of the belief that women automatically have to sacrifice their career for a family. It also aims to remove the stigma of men taking time off work to care for their children, enabling them to feel more comfortable about wanting to stay home for longer than two weeks. She added, “Overall, we hope to be able to highlight that both men and women can continue to thrive in their careers, while also being parents.” It’s a shift which requires a significant change in both how parents are depicted in advertising and treated in the workplace.