The prevalence of offensive and degrading depictions of women in advertisements may be associated to the lack of female decision makers in the advertising industry. Some suggest the dominance of the male imagination, particularly in an industry as powerful as the media, may lead to clichÃ© and simplistic images of women on billboards and in television commercials. The results of such depictions may perpetuate offensive stereotypes of women in society, which may ironically undermine the credentials of professional women.
Although a 1990 survey of European advertising agencies shows that 45% of graduate entrants were female, of the 280 European agencies surveyed only 44 women held senior executive posts. Of the 71 broadcasters (public and commercial) in the member states of the EEC/EU, only 11% of women had reached the top three levels in 1990; only 6% of senior managers were women. In 1992, women made up approximately 15% of external governing bodies (boards of governors) of EEC/EU broadcasters, and 11% of the members of internal governing councils, the range spanning 40% in the Netherlands to zero in Italy. The situation had changed little in 2001, when men occupied 87% of key positions in the media industry. Women represented only 29% of journalists/editors in the written press in western Europe.