For centuries, humankind has been forming stereotypes about men and women, which are still in operation, regardless of time and quality differences of personality of men and women. Gender stereotypes are beliefs that have developed in the socio-cultural environment about how men and women behave. Since they are formed under the influence of society, they are subject to changes.
Gender stereotypes are often related to distribution of family roles (a woman – a mother and homemaker, a man – earner), competencies (women are more suited for humanitarian work or service sector, men are technicians or managers) and politics (politics – not for women).
There is distinguished a set of binary oppositions, stereotypically attributed to men and women (Peterson, Puhl and Luedicke, 2012):
Qualities, related to activities and dynamics. Those attributed to men are entrepreneurship, determination, sense of adventure, courage, self-control, self-confidence, desire for originality, the ability to do business; women: passivity, indecision, caution, concern about compliance with the norms, conformism.
Characteristics that correlate with the positions of power and control. Masculine qualities are considered desire for leadership, ambition, authoritativeness, strength, objectivity, ability to make decisions; female – submissiveness, helplessness, dependency, irresponsibility, weakness, belief in the superiority of male, bias, partiality.
Qualities characterizing cognition. Logic, rationality, tendency to thinking, objectivity and critical perception are attributed to men, while intuition, irrationality, illogical, uncritical perception and even stupidity – to women.
Characteristics of emotional sphere: for males there are – composure, restraint, the ability to separate the rational from the emotional arguments; for females there are emotion, susceptibility, suggestibility, sensitivity, capacity for compassion.
Characteristics associated with the process of interpersonal interaction. For women both positive qualities (compassion, sacrifice, kindness, caring, friendliness, tact, gentleness, tenderness, and love for children) and negative (selfishness, ambition, cunning, deceit, etc.) are characteristic. In the male stereotype, there are present directness and tactlessness, harshness, self-control, balanced judgment, fairness and selfishness, insensitivity and even cruelty.
In general, we can say that the more positive qualities attributed to men than women. Producers of different goods actively use these qualities and gender stereotypes in their work and when advertising them (Malloy et al., 2012). Most women believe that manufacturers of advertising do not understand them and the way they show women is rather annoying than attracting. The same study says what women do not like advertising: demonstration of nudity; cruel jokes with sexual overtones; the image of an independent business woman; when a woman plays the role of a sexual object; focus on the male naked body; the image of a man thoroughly conscious about their appearance.
What women like is as follows: romance in a relationship; the image of sexually attractive man taking care of a woman; the image of groomed woman calling admiring glances; funny situations in which the heroine wins a "small victory" over a man. Men in their turn like: macho-image; man in an emergency or exercising; men's victories.
Advertising tries to unite consumers with similar needs, rather than to remind people about their differences in social roles. Therefore, ads strive to capture the essence of masculine and feminine in general and to offer spectacular perceiver archetypes of masculinity and femininity that can become universal ideals for all sectors of society.
When we talk about goods consumption, it is also interesting to consider stereotypes that exist in our society according to weight. Women’s weight standards have varied a lot throughout centuries and today slim women are more in fashion. As for men, the question of weight problems arises usually only when the men gains too much weight and starts having health problems because of it. In case of women, there are much more worries and problems as to how they are perceived and how they look.
Malloy, T.E., Lewis, B., Kinney, L. and Murphy, P., 2012. Explicit weight stereotypes are curvilinear: Biased judgments of thin and overweight targets. European Eating Disorders Review, 20(2), pp.151-154.
Peterson, J. L., Puhl, R. M. and Luedicke, J., 2012. An experimental assessment of physical educators' expectations and attitudes: the importance of student weight and gender. Journal of School Health, 82(9), pp.432-40.