Outdated masculine archetypes continue to dominate media and advertising

The latest research from creative agency Innocean and gender equality charity The 100% Project has revealed that the media and advertising industry has lagged when it comes to portraying gender roles that challenge traditional conventions.

The research project, which commenced in July 2023 with a literature review assessing the media’s portrayal of men, looked at how the depiction of “traditional” gender roles influence gender equity in society, at work and in leadership.

Titled, “Media’s influence on Masculinity and Gender Roles through Masculine Archetypes”, the initial review found that the most prevalent male archetypes included “the Hero”, “the Provider” and “the Hedonist”. These representations reinforce stereotypical roles and behaviours that are known to lead to poor health outcomes for men and women, and perpetuate gender inequality.

In light of the preliminary results, Innocean and The 100% Project have initiated the next step of what will be an 18-month research project exploring the representation of masculinity and masculine archetypes in the media and their hypothesis that this has a negative impact on gender equality.

Co-Chair of The 100% Project, Jane Hill, said: “In an era of rapidly evolving media consumption, it is crucial to understand the impact of how stereotypes and gender roles are portrayed and how we can foster positive, diverse, and healthy representations of masculinity to help progress gender equality and thus, the well documented, social, economic and organisational benefits. This literature review brings to light some of the masculine archetypes that exist within media and explore whether these have shifted over time.”

The review made a number of recommendations for the next stage of research including assessing masculine archetypes in media across time and multiple media formats. The project will also look to partner with the media and entertainment industry to understand how to represent a more flexible and nuanced version of masculinity than what is currently demonstrated.

Innocean CEO and Fckthecupcakes founder, Jasmin Bedir, said: “We believe that it is our responsibility to redefine aspirational culture for future generations for the better. Media plays a strong role in shaping the
beliefs and assumptions around masculinity and gender roles in society.

“We have identified a need for researchers and brands to partner with media and the entertainment industry to conduct large scale research that helps confirm or deny the shifts from traditional to modern or current day media representations of masculine archetypes. Given there is limited research on how men of today see themselves depicted in media, there is a need to bring men into the conversation.”

Under the leadership of Bedir, Innocean Australia has partnered with a number of gender equality and advocacy initiatives, including Bedir’s Fck The Cupcakes industry initiative and more recently anti-domestic violence movement, White Ribbon.


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