In 2015, Bic, a pen manufacturing company, released this advertisement on their Facebook page with the intention to celebrate Women’s Day in South Africa. Immediately after the posting, this advertisement brought a storm of social media backlash. Women’s Day raises awareness of women in society yet this advertisement ironically reinforced gender-role stereotypes.
One problem with this advertisement is the quotation. Alongside a picture of a professionally-dressed woman, the quotation implies that in order for a women to succeed in the workplace, they must “think like a man” in order to “work like a boss”. It reinforces the stereotypical idea that only men can succeed in the higher levels of a corporate workplace.
The first line “look like a girl” implies a women in the workplace always having to look young to maintain a high status in the workplace. The word “girl” means a women of young age. This quotation is associated with the idea that women “depreciate” with age and once they hit a certain age, they start losing value. A woman would have to be youthful in order to maintain their status and be respected in the workplace.
The second line “Act like a lady” ties in with the gender stereotype of all women exhibiting feminine qualities such as gentleness and delicacy. In the context of this advertisement, this line implies that women are expected to act a certain way in the workplace based on their gender.
The third line “Think like a man” implies that men are intellectually superior in the workplace and that men are able to identify and figure out problems more easily than women can in the workplace.
All of these lines lead up to the final line “work like a boss”, implying that in order to succeed in the workplace, women need to fit in with all the gendered stereotypes in the previous lines to do well. This is a problem as it leads to the idea that men are superior than women in the workplace and that women are always expected act and look a certain way.
In my jammed photo, I changed the quotation as the quotation was a problem since it implied the need for women to fit within gender stereotypes in order to succeed in the workplace. Nothing else was changed besides the quotation since the intention of the advertisement was to empower women and celebrate Woman’s Day. The rest of the advertisement fit with the intention of the advertisement.
By altering the quotation, the advertisement no longer implies the need for women to fit stereotypes in order to succeed in the workplace. The quotation now revolves around the notion that for women to do well in the workplace, they must have qualities of a professional which eliminates the original photo’s idea of gender-specific roles and stereotypes. Now the quotation revolves around the idea of diligence for one’s success in their work and applies to all genders.
I decided to keep the picture of the smartly-dressed woman and the hashtag because I still wanted to highlight the empowerment and success of women in their professional careers. In a workplace setting, the role of women and the work done by them is just as important as their counterparts and yet there are still many instances of gender role biases in the workplace. Women only account for 24% of senior roles globally (Thornton, 2018) and for women in executive positions, they earn 68 cents for every dollar their male counterparts make (“Even in executive ranks, women’s pay is 68% of men’s“, 2019).
Although I believe my jammed work did subvert the gendered ideas that the original advertisement implied, I still believe there needs to be further work done in order to send a message of the importance of women in the workplace.
Grant Thornton, Women in Business: Beyond Policy to Progress (2018): p. 6.
“Even in Executive Ranks, Women’s Pay Is 68% of Men’s.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 2 Jan. 2019, www.cbc.ca/news/business/ceo-pay-gender-gap-1.4963112.