People Are Furious Over What This Gap Ad Says About Boys And Girls

August 1st 2016

Tricia Tongco

Can you spot what’s wrong with this Gap advertisement?

Yup, Einstein is misspelled. But here is what’s really riling people up on social media — the sexist captions describing the girl as “the social butterfly” and the boy as “the little scholar.”

Twitter user Sabrina Golonka was the first one to share the email advertisement, which was sent out over email to UK customers, according to Mashable. Since then, several people have expressed their anger and disappointment in the blatant gender stereotypes in the ad.

The advertisement exists within a larger context of damaging gender biases that hold back girls and women in the classroom, which affects their careers and financial well-being later in life.

Research has shown that men are often encouraged to believe that they are smarter than women. As TakePart reported, a recent study from the University of Washington found the following:

“[B]oth male and female professors teaching science classes favored their male students with subtle behaviors. Not only did they call on them more often in class, but they were also more likely to respond to their emails and spend time mentoring them outside of class. The effect then trickled down to the male students and left female students feeling self-conscious.”

Another unfortunate result of this gender bias in the classroom was that female students were more likely to drop their STEM majors and do so earlier than their male counterparts, according to the study.

High school classrooms aren’t much better. Research has shown that “science teachers spend up to almost 40 percent more time addressing male students in class.”

But this bias goes back even further in children’s education. In classroom discussions in elementary and middle schools, boys are more likely to shout out answers and be listened to, while girls who do the same are told to raise their hands.

In addition to equality as an end in and of itself, why does this matter?

Well, scientific innovation is in dire need of women’s perspectives. As Inc. pointed out, one insidious, harmful example of this is in the field of drug development testing, which was only done on men for decades:

“[S]ometimes the medications didn't work as well on women and sometimes the doses led to alarming and fatal outcomes, like an antihistamine that caused severe heart arrhythmias. Last year, the Food and Drug Administration reduced recommended doses of Ambien for women by half, as women take longer than men to metabolize the sleeping pill and were waking up--and driving--with the drug still in their systems.”

So the Gap ad is just one instance among many perpetuating gender stereotypes that ultimately harm girls and women in more ways than one.