Loyola University Chicago

Quinlan School of Business

Fighting gender injustice drives professor's marketing research

Fighting gender injustice drives professor

Professor Zayer argues that marketers and advertisers must create campaigns that are inclusive.

By Whitney Critten |  Student reporter

Marketing and advertising has power far beyond promoting sales, says professor Linda Tuncay Zayer. It shapes consumers’ perceptions of gender and identity, and can both contribute to and ease gender-based inequalities around the world.

In her research, she argues that marketers and advertisers must create campaigns that are inclusive and reflect the evolving perception of gender. Doing so will move the needle toward social justice and acceptance.

Zayer’s research on gender and identity has been published in notable peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Advertising and the Journal of Consumer Research, and she has co-edited a book entitled Gender, Culture and Consumer Behavior.

Here, she discusses her current research, what she hopes it accomplishes, and why it’s relevant to Quinlan students.

What drew you to this research area?

Gender is such a critical part of one’s identity, and one of the most prominent discourses in advertising and marketing. From childhood, we learn about gender roles and gender norms through advertising, interactions in the marketplace, the products and services we encounter.

However, the market can perpetuate inequalities faced by women and men due to inaccurate and often stereotypical perceptions. In our 2015 Journal of Advertising paper, my coauthor and I discuss how it is critical to examine advertising professionals’ perceptions of gender to identify how it influences the advertisements they create and disseminate.

The hope is to create awareness and move towards action in advertising agencies that then influences societal perceptions.

What are you currently researching?

I recently completed work with an international group of scholars to formulate a framework to study gender issues as it relates to marketing. In this research, which is forthcoming in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, we look to prominent theories on resolving gender-based inequalities.

Specifically, we examine four sites of injustice—health care, domestic and childcare, sexual violence and rape, and sex tourism. The hope is to provide a way for marketing scholars (and more broadly scholars in business) to identify ways to move towards resolving injustices when it comes to gender as well as put forth implications for public policy.

These are complex issues so this research is just one small step in addressing the injustices men and women face globally with regard to gender issues.

What do you hope advertisers and marketers learn from your research?

Marketing and advertising can help address gender inequalities and practitioners can make a difference. For example, in advertising agencies, once there is more awareness of gender-based biases, creatives will hopefully showcase diverse imagery that represents various forms of masculinity and femininity and contribute to sustained social change.

What makes your research relevant to Quinlan students?

Students face issues related to gender and marketing every day—whether that is in their jobs, while shopping in a store, or watching a television commercial—so it’s useful for them to have a way to frame these issues. It also sheds light on the fact that gender issues are not specific to women, and that men need to be included as well.

Quinlan students are also passionate about making the world a better place, so discussing the intersection of gender, business, and social justice in the classroom is well received. These discussions help prepare them to be ethical leaders in the workplace and more mindful individuals.