Gender Disparity in Product Placement

So: In the course of my frantic job hunting, I applied for an online writing job where I would be writing blurbs about products for a gift site. As part of the writing test, I had to go into their huge online store and pick some Mothers’ Day presents to write about. As I did so, I noticed that the products listed in the “gifts for her” section there were very, very stereotypical gifts for women. Given that the topic had to do with thrill-junkies, I popped over to the men’s section, and realized something: There were an insane amount of absolutely gender neutral gifts shoved into the male section. Water bottles and canteens, energy bars, walking sticks, training watches, you name it: All jammed in the men’s section.

I’m not saying there is some huge conspiracy to try to keep women’s interests focused on “feminine” products just to maintain a traditional role in society, but I am saying that it is happening unthinkingly. Advertising makes up an obscene amount of the media we view, and it does help shape our interests and worldviews, no matter what we’d like to think. Whoever set up that store just shoved all those products into gendered categories without putting very much thought into it, probably. Who knows. When you go to find a product, though, and see it in a section advertised for a different gender, there’s an unconscious message being laid out there that says “This isn’t for you. You can’t have this.” Does it affect who buys it? I don’t know. Does it make some people less excited about their purchases? I’d be surprised if it didn’t.

Plus, you know: It does make it a lot less intuitive to search for stuff, so there is that.