John Humphrys sparks controversy in discussion about gender stereotype TV ads
Radio presenter John Humphrys has sparked controversy with comments about women looking after babies.
The co-host of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme was discussing TV adverts being banned under new gender stereotyping rules.
One ad showed “hapless” fathers accidentally leaving a baby on a restaurant conveyor belt, while another depicted adventurous men while a woman sat next to a pram.
Interviewing Jessica Tye of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), Humphrys said: “A woman looking after a baby is, by any estimate, a very, very good and desirable thing for society.
“And by and large, and this is – maybe I will be attacked for this – but by and large they do a better job of it than men, at least in most of our experience, I would have thought.”
The 75-year-old added: “To whom is it causing harm if you show a woman sitting next to a baby in a pram? Lots of women sit next to babies in prams. How does this sort of advertising harm people?”
When Ms Tye said advertising could influence aspirations and career choices, Humphrys replied: “You mean if a girl sees a mother… sitting in a park with a baby in a pram (in an advert) she might think, ‘I don’t want to be an astronaut, I want to be ‘just’ a caregiver’.
“And I put the word ‘just’ in inverted commas because there’s nothing wrong with being a caregiver.”
Some listeners were not impressed.
Helen Stevens wrote on Twitter: “What a shocking interview by John Humphrys re gender stereotyping in adverts. His attitudes serve to illustrate why this type of advertising continues to exist.”
@MollyMEP wrote: “Can all men who care for their children please let John Humphrys know that they do this in a way just as loving and skilful as women?”
Mike Richards wrote: “John Humphrys doing his level best to sound like he belongs in a different century this morning.
“It’s not about one poster stereotyping women, it’s about girls growing up in an environment where so very much of what they see, hear and experience stereotypes women.”
The banned ads were for Philadelphia soft cheese and the Volkswagen eGolf car.
Humphrys has already announced he plans to quit the Today programme after 32 years on the early-morning broadcast.