Gender is complex, but how can you get it right in your advertising to show support for your Gen-Z audience? How can you foster diversity and become an inclusive institution without merely ticking boxes to meet quotas? 

Earlier this month, we hosted a webinar on ‘How to solve the problem of… Gender stereotyping in marketing and advertising’, which you can watch on-demand here.

In case you missed it, here are the key takeaways: 

  1. Learn (and live) the lingo

One in five students never feel represented in advertising. How can you market and advertise to a diverse student audience if you don’t know how to refer to them? Have a conversation with your students to inform the lingo you use in your comms. Start by learning about the power of pronouns.

  1.  Be inclusive 

On that note, awareness of the gender spectrum needs to be at the heart of your institution - that means internal and external. Invite your staff to add their pronouns to their email signatures; a simple gesture that shows your support. For those who identify with a gender different to their sex, standing up with them in displaying your pronouns will open up a positive conversation around gender, and facilitate personalised, frictionless, communications between institution and student. 

  1. Diversity is more than a tick box exercise 

university students laughing

Diversity doesn’t equate to filling quotas. In fact, gender neutrality needs to be an integral part of everything you do. Students want a cohesive experience across platforms, and you need to do the same with your copy, comms, advertising, branding, course content and support for women’s and LGBTQT+ groups from enrolment to graduation.

  1. Be a safe space for your students

Including your students in social media advertising means being aware of the dangers of the internet. Safeguarding must be your top priority while allowing your students to share their stories. Trolling and unsolicited comments have become commonplace, so plan for social media monitoring: remove the option for comments and/or be immediately responsive. Although removing comments is the easiest form of protection, responding to comments and showing support for your students will speak volumes about your institution’s values. By not tolerating bullying, you show your institution to be a safe space - regardless of gender.

  1. Harness the power of user-generated content 

If you’re still unsure of where to begin with gender neutral branding, hand the mic over to your students. Fill your socials with honest insights into life at your institution as a minority group. Become an advocate for flipping gender stereotypes on their head and highlight that ‘normal’ is a social construct. Go against the grain; it’s time to show your students that you’re innovative, in tune with what your students want to see, and are here for them.

  1. Signpost dedicated support services 

support services

Unfortunately, our student survey revealed that approximately 15% of students have experienced sexism at university, but 60-70% don’t know where to report these incidents (you can read the full whitepaper here). Signpost your students to the appropriate support and instill anti-sexism policies in the heart of your institution: from your societies to your comms and your response to bullying.

Whether you’re totally new to the gender neutral approach to advertising, or you’ve already started your journey to inclusivity but you’re not sure of the next steps, get in touch. The future is gender neutral. 

Article by

Nick Willmer

Head of Education