Reality Check: New Equality Measure Targets Gender Bias in Ads and Media | About the ANA | ANA

Reality Check: New Equality Measure Targets Gender Bias in Ads and Media

 Reality Check: New Equality Measure Targets Gender Bias in Ads and Media

 Association of National Advertisers Shares #SeeHer GEM™ (Gender Equality Measure) Methodology with Advertising Research Community

17,000-plus ads have been evaluated using GEM™ to assess realistic and accurate portrayal of girls and women in advertising and media

GEM™ brings equality into established pre- and post-testing equation

NEW YORK (March 20, 2017) — Gender bias is bad for business. Research proves that ads and entertainment in which women and girls are accurately portrayed generate significantly more awareness, recall, and purchase intent than ads in which they are not. Now the Association of National Advertisers’ Alliance for Family Entertainment (ANA AFE) has given the industry a potent, new, data-driven methodology to identify — and eliminate — gender bias.

At today’s Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) annual conference, ANA and leadership from its #SeeHer initiative shared the insights gleaned from, and questions used in, their Gender Equality Measure (GEM™) module, which helps business leaders make better decisions by addressing unconscious bias within media and programming.

The ANA AFE, a collective of the nation’s largest advertisers, launched the #SeeHer initiative last year in partnership with The Female Quotient (TFQ) to increase the accurate portrayal of women and girls in advertising and media by 20 percent by 2020, the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote.

Aiding the advancement toward the 2020 goal, the GEM™ module measures ads and programming to help marketers improve planning choices and ROI. Since last summer, GEMTM has been used to evaluate over 17,000 ads, which the ANA believes constitutes the largest syndicated post-test in history. The research was conducted by AFE syndicated research partner Advertising Benchmark Index (ABX).

GEMTM measures perceptions of how female actors are portrayed in the media by asking consumers four key questions:

  • What is the overall opinion of the female presented?
  • Is she portrayed respectfully?
  • Is she depicted inappropriately?
  • Is she seen as a positive role model for women and girls?

"We are leading the #SeeHer movement for our industry because it makes good business sense and is good for society,” noted ANA CEO Bob Liodice. “Looking at the stats of post-test ads just last week, we are pleased to see that 80 percent of the highest scoring GEM ads are ANA members’ spots. Of course that represents a moment in time, but it clearly indicates that the #SeeHer movement is raising the awareness of marketers. It is a good start.  We must get to the point that no CMO will run any ad that shows gender bias.”

"The GEMTM measure will add a new dimension of equality to our research suite of industry standards which currently includes awareness, recall, purchase intent, and likeability,” said Shelley Zalis, #SeeHer co-founder and founder and CEO of TFQ. “We know that women do not lack confidence, but the media lacks confidence in its portrayal of women. We can only treasure what we can measure, so we are sharing GEMTM with the research industry.” 

Sharing the GEMTM methodology is the latest undertaking of an ongoing initiative to support marketer and media efforts to create content that is free of gender bias. The initiative has developed toolkits for advertisers to create unbiased messaging. In January, boot camps to teach #SeeHer members how to eliminate gender bias began.

“There are compelling insights that support #SeeHer. Forty percent of women don’t identify with the women they see in ads; 90 percent of parents are concerned about TV programming, that there are no role models for girls; yet women make 85 percent of all consumer purchase decisions.” Stephen Quinn, ANA AFE chairman concluded, “We are all trying to become more customer-centric and these data show we have a distance to go. CMOs have an obligation to maximize marketing ROI and seize control over their brand by eliminating bias in their ads and ensuring their media buys include environments in which women and girls are portrayed the way they really are.”

About the #SeeHer Initiative

Despite the strides made to accurately portray women and women in the media, an unconscious bias persists against women and girls in advertising, media, and programming The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) Alliance for Family Entertainment (AFE) launched the #SeeHer initiative in June 2016 in a joint partnership with The Female Quotient (TFQ’s) Girl’s Lounge, at the White House as part of the United State of Women event. The #SeeHer Initiative mission is to accurately portray all women and girls in media by 2020, the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote.  For more information, visit, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


The mission of the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) is to drive growth for marketing professionals, brands and businesses, the industry, and humanity. The ANA serves the marketing needs of 20,000 brands by leveraging the 12-point ANA Growth Agenda, which has been endorsed by the Global CMO Growth Council. The ANA’s membership consists of U.S. and international companies, including client-side marketers, nonprofits, fundraisers, and marketing solutions providers (data science and technology companies, ad agencies, publishers, media companies, suppliers, and vendors). The ANA creates Marketing Growth Champions by serving, educating, and advocating for more than 50,000 industry members that collectively invest more than $400 billion in marketing and advertising annually.

# # #